cover image In My Momma's Kitchen

In My Momma's Kitchen

Jerdine Nolen. Amistad Press, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12760-2

""Seems like everything good that happens in my house happens in my momma's kitchen,"" begins the young narrator of this cozy picture-book collection of vignettes, set, appropriately, in the kitchen. There the girl's older sister, Nadene, announces she's won a scholarship to college; her aunts gather to cook and chat on ""Talking Pots Day""; and Daddy sings ""La Cucaracha"" and does the cha-cha as he makes corn pudding. Employing her talent for comfortably paced storytelling and evocative description, Nolen (Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm) uses one- to three-page scenarios to evoke the rhythms and rituals of a close-knit, dynamic African-American family. Whether describing ""Gran Lee,"" the old hand-me-down stove Momma would never part with, or a curious pet cat, Nolen's subtle details add color and depth to the proceedings. Bootman's (Oh, No, Toto!) softly lit, realistic oil portraits match the text's warm mood, capturing many tender moments between the narrator and her relatives. Art and text work together to transport readers to a place where abundant love and sweet memories are staples of daily fare. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)