Mim's Christmas Jam

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The best part of Christmas is the whole family savoring Mim's belly-hum jam together. But this Christmas, Pap is far away in New York City, digging a hole for something called the subway, and his family is missing him something awful. Pap aches to be home, but the heartless foremen of his dig site have decided there will be no break, not even for Christmas. It looks like it's going to be one lonely holiday for everyone . . . until young Saraleen and Royce send their pap a gift ...

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Overview

The best part of Christmas is the whole family savoring Mim's belly-hum jam together. But this Christmas, Pap is far away in New York City, digging a hole for something called the subway, and his family is missing him something awful. Pap aches to be home, but the heartless foremen of his dig site have decided there will be no break, not even for Christmas. It looks like it's going to be one lonely holiday for everyone . . . until young Saraleen and Royce send their pap a gift that may just inspire a Christmas miracle.
The recipient of a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and a two-time Caldecott Honor illustrator have created a warm and magical holiday classic about the power of love, complete with the recipe for Mim's Christmas jam.

When Pap goes away to build the New York City subway in 1915, his family sends him Mother's special jam which works magic in returning him home to celebrate Christmas.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the Pinkneys' (Duke Ellington) hands, a tasty family tradition and New York City history make a flavorsome pairing. It's 1915, and Christmas just isn't the same when Pap must be away from Mim and their children while he works to build the New York City subway system. But a jar of Mim's "belly-hum jam" unexpectedly works its own small miracles. Vibrant scratchboard compositions skillfully contrast the dank underground construction site with the warmth of home. Ages 3-7. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Every bit of Christmas hope and expectation is etched in the faces peering out of the snowy window on the cover of Mim's Christmas Jam, inviting the reader inside to see if the children are stealing a glimpse at Santa's reindeer¾or a much more special surprise as it turns out in this case. An excellent addition to the classroom or library shelf because of its multicultural and historical elements, the story combines the holiday traditions of Christmas trees and special sweets¾like Mim's belly-hum jam¾with the true story of immigrants and African Americans hired to build the New York subway in the early 20th century. The bright warm kitchen where Saraleen and Royce are bottling Mim's jam gives way to the thick, dark swirls of brown dirt and blue coveralls where men work long, hard days under ground, with no break even for a holiday like Christmas. Until the foremen had a taste of Mim's belly-hum jam, that is. "That there is some tasty jam", said Mr. Evans after a big fingerful of the treat Pap had brought to the dig site. Tasty enough to warrant closing the dig site for Christmas¾just in time for Saraleen and Royce to peer out their window and watch Pap and his fellow workers carry home a "blue pine, big as a bridge" so that everyone could enjoy decorating the tree and sharing Christmas Eve dinner. And for your dinner, there's even a recipe for belly-hum jam. "Try a batch and see if it puts a hum in your belly." 2001, Harcourt, $16.00. Ages 5 to 10. Reviewer: Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-During the Christmas season of 1915, Pap can't be with his family in Pennsylvania because he's digging the new subway tunnels in New York City. To cheer him up, his children send him a jar of their mother's famous belly-hum jam, one taste of which softens the hearts of two mean foremen, who give the workers Christmas off. The scratchboard illustrations are equally effective whether depicting a snowy landscape, a homey kitchen, or the gloomy dankness of the subway tunnel (where the jar of jam glows like a ruby). A satisfying slice of life with a rich and delicious message.-E. M. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
It's 1915 and Pap is in New York City, working on the construction of the subway system. He earns good money as a sandhog, but it's backbreaking, dangerous work. Meanwhile, his family in Pennsylvania is preparing for a lonely Christmas without him. Mim and the children plan the decorations and Mim makes her mythical "belly-hum jam," a recipe that has been passed along in her family since the slave era. It is so named because it makes your belly sing with the main ingredients of family pride and love. Pap and his sandhog colleagues, Donovan, Gilletti, and Jones cannot expect time off for Christmas because their bosses, nicknamed "Mean and Evil," will not allow it. But a jar of Mim's special jam arrives on the day of Christmas Eve and Pap takes it to work to share with his friends. He gives some to his bosses, who are instantly infused with the spirit of Christmas and close the dig site for the holiday. Pap and the sandhogs arrive home in time for a joyous Christmas. The author's text is a simple evocation of a warm and loving family separated by economic necessity. The dangers and difficulties of Pap's work are not ignored, but the emphasis is on the love and commitment of all the family members. The story flows seamlessly between rural home-life, the bustling city, and the underground work site. The happy ending is just a bit too sweet, but is entirely in keeping with the spirit of the work. An introduction presents some factual information about the construction of the New York City subway system and the work of the sandhogs, who were mainly African-Americans and immigrants. A recipe for the jam is included. The illustrator's signature scratchboard art of heavy black outline and strongacrylic colors adds visual clarity to the stark differences between the settings. The farm scenes are bright and full of lively color. In comparison, the underground scenes are in shades of brown, with the figures of the men lit only by work lights. The Pinkneys have again succeeded in presenting a lesser-known aspect of Af
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152019181
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.22 (w) x 11.32 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

ANDREA DAVIS PINKNEY is an acclaimed author whose awards include a Coretta Scott King Author Honor for Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters. She is also a children’s book editor in New York City.

BRIAN PINKNEY is a celebrated picture book illustrator who has won two Caldecott Honors, the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, and three Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honors. The Pinkneys live in Brooklyn, New York.

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