Dayshaun is volunteering—reluctantly—with his mother at the local community garden when suddenly he time-travels back to the free Black community of Weeksville in Brooklyn, New York, during the draft riots of 1863. Writing in the style of the popular Magic Tree House series, Zetta Elliott brings young readers a vital yet little known story in U.S. history from an African American perspective. Dayshaun meets a young girl who explains why the riots began: “A lot of poor white men got drafted into the Union Army, but rich white men could buy their way out for $300. The poor men felt that was unfair, and so they set fire to the draft office. Then the mob started attacking every Negro in sight.” Another youth adds: “The rioters blame us for the war and they don’t want slavery to end.” Before Dayshaun returns to the present, he—and young readers—learn a lot more about the Weeksville community and the riots.
— Rethinking Schools
Summer vacation has just begun and Dayshaun wants to spend Saturday morning playing his new video game. But Dayshaun’s mother has other plans: she volunteers at a nearby community garden and that means Dayshaun has to volunteer, too. When Dayshaun puts on his grandfather’s grubby old gardening hat, something unexpected happens—the hands of time turn backward and Dayshaun finds himself in the free Black community of Weeksville during the summer of 1863! While helping the survivors of the New York City Draft Riots, Dayshaun meets a frail old man who entrusts him with a precious family heirloom. But will this gift help Dayshaun find his way back to the 21st century?
Dayshaun’s Gift is Book #2 in the City Kids series.