A boy who has little learns that he can still give.
James Otis and his mama have fallen on hard times. His father died, and they had no suit in which to bury him; they lost their farm, their new “run-down shotgun house in the Bottoms” flooded, and his dog ran away. Though they have very little, his mama says, “Long as we have our health and strength, we are blessed.” As Valentine’s Day approaches, their pastor announces that “love boxes” will be delivered to the needy in the community, including a mother and daughter who have lost everything in a fire. He reminds them that “what is given from the heart reaches the heart.” Mama gets right to work sewing her best tablecloth—the one nice thing she owns—into an apron that she hopes will please the mother, Irene. But James Otis can’t think of anything he has that the little girl would want. Finally, he comes up with a plan, and what he gives from the heart, little Sarah cherishes. Debut illustrator Harrison’s heartfelt mixed-media illustrations, which include collage, acrylic, and found objects, emphasize the closeness between James Otis and his mother. The full faces of the characters and the muted palette and spare backgrounds reflect the dignity and joy to be found within black culture and community life even in lean times.
A sweet story, one of the legendary McKissack’s last, enhanced by delectable art from a prodigious new talent. (Picture book. 4-10)