Adapted from the bestselling book of the same title for adults (2011), this abridged version presents the true story of a friendship between an impoverished African-American boy and a young white woman who becomes his mentor.
The boy, Maurice, narrates this relatively lengthy story of his budding friendship with Laura, a professional woman working in an unnamed big city. He first meets Laura when he asks her for spare change and she buys him dinner. Maurice explains that he doesn’t have enough to eat at home. This leads to regular weekly dinners with Laura, visits to her apartment, and a Christmas visit to Laura’s extended family. Maurice enjoys the big family’s holiday celebration, and he receives all the presents on his Christmas list. He hopes that someday he will have his own big family like Laura’s. In a sentimental conclusion, Maurice gives Laura his white teddy bear, the only Christmas present he had ever previously received. Evocative illustrations in pencil and watercolor bring the holiday celebrations to life with a wide variety of perspectives and illustration sizes. The final pages include two author’s notes and one from the real Maurice.
This well-meant effort is a touching story of the white-savior variety, but it also raises some provocative social questions without ever answering them satisfactorily. (Picture book. 7-10)