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AIN’T NOBODY A STRANGER TO ME by Ann Grifalconi Kirkus Star


by Ann Grifalconi & illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: April 1st, 2007
ISBN: 0-7868-1857-3
Publisher: Disney-Jump at the Sun

In this moving testimonial, an old man eloquently recalls escaping from slavery with a few apple seeds in his pocket, as he and his young granddaughter stroll out to the lushly flowering orchard that has since grown from them. To the child’s question about why he waves to everyone they meet, Gran’pa utters the title line, and then explains how his journey to freedom—undertaken with his wife, their baby and unlooked-for help from members of the Underground Railroad—led him to feel that way ever since he and his family “got through.” “I been on both sides. When somebody falls down, what kind of man gonna stop ’n’ say: ‘I don’t pick up no stranger! Let ’em lie there’? Leastways, not me!” Painting in an impressionistic vein and expertly capturing the couple’s intimacy, Pinkney alternates brightly colored, semi-rural scenes with flashbacks in dark browns and grays, then closes with a tender caress awash in pink blossoms. The title is actually a quote, and though here it’s taken out of context and, in the author’s note, incorrectly attributed to a man, it makes a powerful statement across racial lines, nationalities and generations. (Picture book. 7-9)