Little David Earl always knows what day of the week it is. He can tell by the clean, snappy-fresh apron Ma Dear is wearing -- a different color for every day. Monday means washing, with Ma Dear scrubbing at her tub in a blue apron. Tuesday is ironing, in a sunshine yellow apron that brightens Ma's spirits. And so it goes until Sunday, when Ma Dear doesn't have to wear an apron and they can set aside some special no-work time, just for themselves. In their first collaboration, ...
Little David Earl always knows what day of the week it is. He can tell by the clean, snappy-fresh apron Ma Dear is wearing -- a different color for every day. Monday means washing, with Ma Dear scrubbing at her tub in a blue apron. Tuesday is ironing, in a sunshine yellow apron that brightens Ma's spirits. And so it goes until Sunday, when Ma Dear doesn't have to wear an apron and they can set aside some special no-work time, just for themselves.
In their first collaboration, Newbery Honor author Patricia McKissack and award-winninng illustrator Floyd Cooper lovingly recreate a slice of turn-of-the-century Southern life as it was for a single African-American mother and her son.
Young David Earl always knows what day of the week it is, because his mother, Ma Dear, has a different apron for every day except Sunday.
If Ma Dear puts on her blue apron, "the one with the long pocket across the front," then young David Earl knows it must be Monday, wash day. Tuesday's yellow apron means it's ironing day; the green apron says it's Wednesday, when the laundry gets delivered to "the rich people." And so goes the rest of the week until Sunday, a special day when Ma Dear doesn't do any work-and needs no apron at all. McKissack (A Million Fish... More or Less) writes with fondness and respect about an African American widow who takes on exhausting work in order to support her son, and the early-20th-century setting-an era that knew few household appliances-renders her story all the more poignant. Her imagery ("a wind-dried sheet that smells of peach blossoms") is as bright and crisp as the "snappy-fresh" aprons. With Ma Dear's gentle words and attentiveness to David Earl, even in the face of her obvious weariness, the author offers a lesson in strength and kindness. One caveat: the story, so polished throughout, drops off abruptly on the final page. Cooper's (Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea) always luminescent oil washes here radiate the warmth of a loving mother-son relationship. His work abounds, too, with period details (non-electric irons, wash tubs, huge laundry baskets). A tender tale of love and sacrifice.
- Publisher's Weekly
In what PW called a "tender tale of love and sacrifice," an African-American widow and her son trace the rhythms of their week during the early part of the 20th century. Ages 3-8. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
- Rebecca Joseph
Little David knows what day of the week it is by the apron his mother wears. Each day of the week and the strenuous chores Ma undertakes are described in this wonderful book, Through David's eye and his mother's aprons, young readers will learn about the hard life of African-Americans living in the South in the late 1800s. But what really shines through is the strong love between a mother and her son.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4McKissack recounts the weekly routines of her great-grandmother, Ma Dear, through the eyes of David Earl, Ma Dear's son. Each morning the young boy sees his mother put on a different apron, one for each day's chore. The work is described in carefully chosen detail. Laundry is done by heating water, scrubbing each piece on the rub board, and using peach leaves in the final rinse. Ma Dear and David Earl take the sweet-smelling, neatly ironed and folded clothes in a horse-drawn wagon to the basement door of a large mansion on the other side of town. The rich white woman carefully checks the laundry and gives Ma Dear a quarter for her work. The mother's love for her son is seen in tangible ways as Ma Dear creatively involves David Earl in her weekly chores, teaching him to iron on practice pieces of cloth without making cat whiskers, singing while they clean, and making string designs during their lunch break. Cooper's oil wash paintings in muted colors capture the love of mother and son at work, rest, and play. The narrative ends abruptly with a change of focus to David Earl's father, who had been killed as a soldier. The real story is Ma Dear's. Children who have this book read to them will see an African-American woman whose life in the rural south of the early 1900s was difficult but lived with dignity and joy.Adele Greenlee, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN
McKissack's story looks at a week in the life of a turn-of- the-century African-American boy and his mother. David Earl identifies the days of the week by the color of Ma Dear's apron: Among them, Monday's is blue, with a long pocket harboring clothespins for her ironing work; a cheerful pink one for visiting the sick and shut-in on Thursday; Saturday's apron is flowered, signaling the day she sells pies at the railroad station. Sunday, blessedly, is apron-free, a "no-work day," David Earl reminds her. With the aid of Cooper's paintings, McKissack gives real bite to the life of domestic workers 100 years back. This isn't a candy- coated mother-son relationship—Ma Dear is just as quick to tell David Earl "no more buts, and stop whining," as she is to bestow a hug. But there's love here, cast over David Earl's life with the same uncompromising grace Ma Dear brings to all things in their lives.
Patricia C. McKissack is the author of many highly acclaimed books for children, including Goin' Someplace Special, a Coretta Scott King Award
winner; The Honest-to-Goodness Truth; Let My People Go, written with her
husband, Fredrick, and recipient of the NAACP Image Award; The Dark-Thirty, a Newbery Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award winner; and Mirandy and Brother Wind, recipient of the Caldecott Medal and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.