cover image Just Like a Mama

Just Like a Mama

Alice Faye Duncan, illus. by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow. S&S/Millner, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5344-6183-3

In this much-needed picture book about nontraditional families, Carol Olivia Clementine, a light-skinned black child, lives with Mama Rose, a darker-skinned black woman, “miles away” from Carol Olivia’s parents. Though Carol Olivia misses her parents (why the family resides apart is never revealed), she is glad to live with Mama Rose, who takes care of her in all the ways a mama does: teaching life skills (making the bed, telling time), ensuring that she’s well nourished (“there will be NO chocolate cake until I eat my veggies”), and otherwise providing for the girl’s health and happiness (“Just like a mama, she combs my hair”). Brightly colored, expressive mixed-media illustrations capture the duo’s vivacity and the strength of their love as the woman chases the child on a yellow bicycle. Ultimately, Carol Olivia concludes, Mama Rose is “just like a mama to me”; in fact, “Mama Rose is my home.” A poignant author’s note reveals Duncan’s personal connection to the narrative and praises “fictive kin, adoptive parents, and guardians who have chosen to love and care for a child when they have no obligation to do so.” Ages 4–8. [em](Jan.) [/em]