TELL ME A STORY, MAMA by Angela Johnson
Kirkus Star


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Together, a new author and a new illustrator make an outstanding debut. In a bedtime dialogue between a six-or eight-year-old girl and her mother, memorable incidents in their family history are reviewed. The eager, well-loved child asks her mother to recount favorite events, but they are so familiar that she really tells them herself with only occasional comments from Mama: the time Mama got even with a mean neighbor and Grandmama made her apologize--but also gave her an extra sweet-roll; the time Mama and Aunt Jessie went to stay with Great-aunt Rosetta for a few months because their parents had to work; the time Grandmama cried at the airport when Mama moved away. Love and a strong sense of continuity shine through partings and reunions, suggesting that the qualities that make a family strong are passed from one generation to the next through such a rehearsal as this. In watercolors that glow with the story's warm affection, Soman depicts the many times and places in this black family's past, using details of costume and setting to distinguish it from the present. His light-dappled style is realistic, but not overdefined; he is especially gifted at conveying subtle slates of mind through facial expressions and postures. A wonderful book for sharing.

Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Orchard
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