Coming on Home Soon

( 3 )

Overview

Ada Ruth's mama must go away to Chicago to work, leaving Ada Ruth and Grandma behind. It's war time, and women are needed to fill the men's jobs. As winter sets in, Ada Ruth and her grandma keep up their daily routine, missing Mama all the time. They find strength in each other, and a stray kitten even arrives one day to keep them company, but nothing can fill the hole Mama left. Every day they wait, watching for the letter that says Mama will be coming on home soon. Set during World War II, Coming On Home Soon ...

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Overview

Ada Ruth's mama must go away to Chicago to work, leaving Ada Ruth and Grandma behind. It's war time, and women are needed to fill the men's jobs. As winter sets in, Ada Ruth and her grandma keep up their daily routine, missing Mama all the time. They find strength in each other, and a stray kitten even arrives one day to keep them company, but nothing can fill the hole Mama left. Every day they wait, watching for the letter that says Mama will be coming on home soon. Set during World War II, Coming On Home Soon has a timeless quality that will appeal to all who wait and hope.

A 2005 Caldecott Honor Book

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
It's World War II and "they're hiring colored women in Chicago since all the men are off fighting in the war." Waiting for her mother to return to their rural home, Ada Ruth takes comfort in her grandma, a scraggly new kitten, and-at last!-a letter from her beloved Mama. This is another finely tuned, emotionally rich tale by Coretta Scott King medalist Woodson. (Ages 6 to 8)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
Publishers Weekly
The creators of The Other Side set this quietly stirring tale during an unspecified wartime (though details in the paintings suggest WWII). Ada Ruth's mother packs her suitcase in the opening full-bleed painting, explaining to her daughter, "They're hiring colored women in Chicago since all the men are off fighting in the war.... I'm gonna head on up there." Staying with her loving grandmother, the forlorn narrator continues to write to her mother, yet receives no response. Ada Ruth takes solace in her grandmother's embraces and encouragement ("Your mama's gonna be coming on home soon") and in the company of a kitten that appears at the door one snowy morning. Woodson's narrative is lyrical and spontaneous; of the kitten, Ada Ruth observes, "It's a slip of a thing. But its softness is big./ And warm as ten quilts on my lap./ Warm as Mama's hands." Lewis's lifelike, earth-toned watercolors deftly convey the sustaining affection and mutual support between Ada Ruth and her grandmother, as well as the girl's simultaneous loneliness. Well placed cameo-shaped portraits of the mother and her activities provide reassurance to readers. The story ends on a positive note: the long-awaited letter from Mama promises "I'll be coming on home soon" and a final, wordless image reveals the woman making her way through the snow to their door. Ages 5-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
During World War II, Ruth's mama reluctantly leaves her with her grandmother to go to Chicago where she can earn money. Ruth keeps writing to her, but is distresses as the time passes with no word. Times are hard. Ruth watches the snow fall and pets a stray kitten they really can't afford to feed, fighting back tears as she waits while the cold days go by. She realizes that her mother is lucky enough to get a chance to work as a black woman because of the war. There is joy when a letter full of both money and love finally arrives, along with the promise of "coming on home soon." There's a poetic feeling in the text which is partnered in Lewis's full-page and vignette watercolors. He creates the hominess of the rural setting, but it is his portraits of the three women which mainly carry the strong sense of generational love and faith in the future. He handles his medium with conviction, particularly in controlling the light in each scene to enhance the narrative flow. These are real people; the illustrations invite us to know them. 2004, GP Putnam's Sons, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A beautifully written and illustrated story from the creators of The Other Side (Putnam, 2001), set during World War II. Ada Ruth waits for the return of her mother, who left home in search of a job. "They're hiring colored women in Chicago since all the men are off fighting in the war." Perfectly matched words and illustrations masterfully bring to life all the emotions that the girl is experiencing as she, her grandmother, and a stray kitten that has come to stay all try to comfort and console one another. As snow continues to fall, the large watercolor pages are filled with scenes of wistful longing-looking out the window, bringing in firewood, giving the kitten some milk, knitting, listening to news on the radio, and capturing the disappointment when the postman passes without stopping. Finally, a letter arrives and, with it, some much-needed money. The first line of the letter reads, "Tell Ada Ruth I'll be coming on home soon." Now, images convey a warm sense of anticipation. The final painting shows a woman with her back to readers approaching a house- home. A tender, heartfelt story that will touch readers.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a perfect pairing with Woodson's text, Lewis manages to make his rich watercolors glow with the light of memory in a simple story of another time of war. His figures and objects fill the real space they inhabit, however, and appear fully present in our consciousness. Ada Ruth misses her mama, who has gone off to work cleaning railroad cars in Chicago. During WWII, when the men were fighting, women were needed to work-even, as Ada Ruth's mother says, colored women. When a starving kitten comes to their door, Ada's grandmother doesn't see how they can keep it, but puts down a saucer of milk just the same. The narrative is filled with quietness: as the snow falls; as Ada and Grandma wait for the mail that will bring news and money; as the kitten insinuates itself into mealtimes, skimpy or not. Longing, loneliness, pride, and doing what needs to be done shine off the pages and into the hearts of readers. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399237485
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/7/2004
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 132,819
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 550L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Born on February 12th in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline Woodson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York and graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She now writes full-time and has recently received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Her other awards include a Newbery Honor, two Coretta Scott King awards, two National Book Award finalists, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Although she spends most of her time writing, Woodson also enjoys reading the works of emerging writers and encouraging young people to write, spending time with her friends and her family, and sewing. Jacqueline Woodson currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2006

    A daughter longs for her mother's return...

    This is a beautiful story that exemplifies the strength that can be drawn from a family¡¦s love for one another. The pictures depict the feelings of the harsh winter and the lonesomeness brought out by the mother¡¦s absence. Ada Ruth is a younger girl who is struggling with the separation from her mother. She still has her grandmother and has taken to the care of a stray kitten, but she longs for her mother¡¦s care. Each day she writes to her mother and awaits news of her return. The reader connects to Ada Ruth¡¦s character, as they too can imagine the feelings they would experience if their mother were to leave. It also develops a sense of admiration for the women of that time who stepped up to the roles of the men. It was a time of war, and the men were responsible for fighting for our country¡¦s rights and freedom. For many women, and in the case of Ada Ruth¡¦s mother, this meant leaving their families and finding work in order to provide financially. When Ada Ruth and the grandmother receive the long-awaited letter from the mother, the reader recognizes their relief and excitement. In closed was money and her promise of ¡§coming on home soon.¡¨ The story ends with an image of the mother making her way back home through the snow.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2007

    Waiting for Mama

    Coming on Home Soon is a story about a little girl named Ada Ruth, whose mother must go away to work during the war. Ada Ruth misses her mother so much. She watches the mail everyday hoping for a letter from her mother ¿when the postman goes on by without stopping, Grandma says, hush now. Don't start that crying¿. She and her grandmother listen to the radio at night to hear of news about the war. She explains, ¿When Grandma turns the radio off, I rub my hand along the kitten¿s back and think about the women working on the trains. Just think. My mama right there beside them¿. Although Ada Ruth is sad she has a strong sense of pride for what her mother is accomplishing. This book was a Caldecott Honor Book in 2005. This book is appropriate for children ages 4-8. This is a touching story that kids can relate, especially those who may have a loved one in the war right now. Jacqueline Woodson has won many awards for her picture books and novels. One very famous book is The Other Side. The illustrator is E.B. Lewis who has also won many awards. Woodson, Jacqueline. Coming on Home Soon. New York: G.P. Putnam¿s Sons, 2004.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2007

    Coming On Home Soon

    ¿Coming On Home Soon¿ was an excellent book. It really deserved the Caldecott Medal. The illustrations were wonderful, very creative and wonderful use of color. The illustrations go along with the storyline. Jacqueline Woodson writes about issues that children or all ages face. She does a wonderful job illustrating the problem that many families faced in the 'old days' as well as in the present time. Not only can the children that have experienced losing a family member to war or a job that takes them away but Woodson really allows the audience to be able to connect to Ada Ruth emotionally. Especially when she writes ¿when the postman goes on by without stopping, Grandma says, hush now. Don't start that crying.¿ Everyone has experienced that time when a loved one is gone away for a period of time and you can't wait to hear from them. But every time the postman passes by your house all you feel is disappointment and tears.

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