Love Twelve Miles Long

Glenda Armand, illus. by Colin Bootman. Lee & Low, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-60060-245-0
Inspired by the childhood of Frederick Douglass, Armand’s debut reveals a poignant conversation between young Frederick and his mother, paired with Bootman’s arresting and emotive paintings. Frederick’s mother works long days as a slave in the cornfields, and the boy lives on another plantation; the story takes place on a rare “special night,” when Mama walks the 12 miles between their residences to visit her son, who listens eagerly as she recalls her journey. She devotes each mile to a different pastime: the first mile is for forgetting how tired she is, the second is for remembering everything about her son, the third is for listening to the sounds of the night, and so on. Armand’s narrative smoothly transitions between each of Mama’s preoccupations: “I pray that one day we will all be free. And all that praying makes me feel like singing.” Bootman (A Storm Called Katrina) deftly uses candlelight and moonlight to give his art a lovely iridescence, and presents intimate portraits of mother and son. A brief afterword provides additional background on Douglass and his mother. Ages 6–11. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/28/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
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