Based on her family's move from Oklahoma to California in 1948 when she was 10, Thomas tells of the train trip and her subsequent love for the "Golden State" in poetic language distinguished by strong verbs and striking images.
It was a time soon after World War II, when many people of color relocated. She relates the long train ride to the "Land of Milk and Honey" and describes the state in its varied landscapes, from deserts to the agricultural richness of the Central Valley and the people who work the crops to "the city / where the ships sit / anchored in the coastal waters / like iron mountains / docked in the bay." Cooper's art, in textured sepia with bits of color to highlight action, shows the people—all of whom are African-American—as a young person might have experienced what she saw, reinforcing the text's homey details: The narrator chases her sandwich "with Grapette soda pop / the bottle streaked with marbles of cold." His paintings expand over full openings and carry the eye with portraits of people and places from Southern California to the Golden Gate Bridge. But both text and illustration concentrate on the people who found the "Land of Milk and Honey"—and remained.
Thomas and Cooper have given us, especially Californians, a moving love song. (Picture book. 5-8)