Sunday, May 13, 2007

Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson;Illustrated by E.B.Lewis

Coming on Home Soon
Author: Jacqueline Woodson;
Illustrator: E.B.Lewis
Happy Mother's Day to all our mother readers!

In my earlier review of the book Mama's Saris, I had mentioned that the story begins as a little girl sitting on her mother's bed looks at a suticase full of her mother's saris, and they discuss the prospect of the little girl wearing a Sari for her seventh birthday. Well, the book I have picked to review here, "Coming On Home Soon" interestingly enough begins with a similar setting. A little girl is sitting on her Mama's bed and there's a suticase and there's Mama too. However, unlike Mama's Saris, the expressions on the faces of Mama and her daughter on the first page, seemed to convey that the story was going to be anything but a light read. If you notice the picture of the coverpage, it is that of a little girl and certainly conveys a sense of loneliness as she is looking sideways with a forlorn look on her face.

The story unfolds as a little girl named Ada Ruth watches her mother pack her suitcase as she is getting ready to leave for Chicago where they're hiring colored women since all the men are off fighting in the war. Mama has a tough decision to make and you could tell from the looks on Mama's face that she is not happy to leave her little girl and grandma behind. Mama tells her little girl, "I'm gonna head on up there." Mama leaves and Ada Ruth misses her while at the same time takes comfort from her grandmother's loving care and encouragement that Mama will be back soon.

Ada Ruth writes to her mother but does not hear back. Both grandma and Ada Ruth wait eagerly for Mama to come back while keeping up their daily routine. While trying to cope with the loneliness in their hearts due to Mama's absence, they find a stray kitten that arrives at their doorstep on a snowy morning, and decide to bring him inside to keep them company. Winter sets in, and one day, finally the long-awaited letter that Mama is "Coming On Home soon" arrives. That offers some relief to know that the story has a positive ending. The last page is wordless, and the final illustration reveals the image of Mama's back as she walks her way back through the snow - leaving the readers with a feel for the heartwarming reunion that would take place as soon as Mama walks in that door. What a tender and heartwarming story!

This Caldecott honor(2005) book,marvellously written and illustrated, so beautifully portrays the love and support that a mother, daughter and grandmother give one another during the troubled days of wartime. The story is set around an African American family.

Jacqueline Woodson's narrative is simple and aweinspiring - Some of my favorite lines include - "I watch the snow come down fast. Try hard to remember the way my mama smelled. Like sugar some days. And some days like sun. Some days like the lye soap that turned her hands yellow but got the wash real clean. I blink hard, but the tears still try to come."

The book is appropriate for school aged kids - from kindergarten to third grade. My daughter, who is entering kindergarten this fall, is yet to fully appreciate the underlying nuances/messages expressed in the story, as in, 1) the meaning of war 2) what it means to miss a loved one 3) that life is not the same for moms and children in every family etc. But, I am sure we will continue to read this book over and over in the coming years.

1 comment:

sathish said...

great cover and interesting storyline..

would love get hold of this book.. thanks for the reco!

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