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SUMMERTIME & THE LIVIN' IS EASY by Edwina Louise Dorch


written and illustrated by Edwina Louise Dorch

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2023
ISBN: 9781956691108
Publisher: Orion/Trafalgar

Dorch’s middle-grade book depicts a day in the life of a young girl and her loved ones.

Jasmine, a 10-year-old girl, helps her Mama clean the Harris’ house. The Harrises are kind, but the disparity between them and Jasmine’s family is evident. Dr. Harris checks Jasmine’s infected ear. Mrs. Harris notices that Jasmine’s shoes are held together with safety pins and offers Mama some clothes and shoes that their daughter, Cindy, outgrew (Jasmine sees a game called Dyslexia Quest on Cindy’s computer screen, but the author declines to elaborate). After work, Jasmine and Mama take the bus home with other maids. Stepdaddy and 11-year-old Frankie, Jasmine’s brother, return home from washing windows. Stepdaddy criticizes Frankie right away: “He left one of my wash buckets behind and when I went back to get it, it was gone and I ain’t got no money to replace it.” A simple supper of cornbread, neck bones, and pinto beans contrasts starkly with the Harris family’s dinner of “prime rib…candied yams…crescent rolls…and the key lime pie” prepared earlier by Mama. The hot summer evening continues with summer sounds, Jasmine questioning God’s existence, a green-tailed lightning bug, and simple games. When Stepdaddy asks the children to go to the store for bread, they head off, enjoying the walk until Jasmine loses their money. A search for it is unsuccessful. Mama has already bought bread, so all is well. The author creates a vivid portrait of a Black family getting through the day while holding on to hopes and dreams: Mama wants to become a nurse, Frankie an engineer, and Jasmine a preacher. Dorch’s simple color illustrations, including images of a bicycle rim and a train, support the text.

A family portrait as captivating as a Gershwin melody.