Singing with Momma Lou

Overview

Nine-year-old Tamika Jordan dreads visiting her grandmother at the nursing home. Momma Lou has Alzheimer's and always forgets who Tamika is. But when Tamika's father shows her Momma Lou's scrapbooks, the young girl gets the idea of jogging Momma Lou's memory. During each visit, she shows her grandmother memorabilia from the scrapbook: Momma Lou dressing Tamika like an angel for a Christmas pageant, marching in a civil rights demonstration, and singing "We Shall Overcome" with other jailed protesters. One day ...
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Overview

Nine-year-old Tamika Jordan dreads visiting her grandmother at the nursing home. Momma Lou has Alzheimer's and always forgets who Tamika is. But when Tamika's father shows her Momma Lou's scrapbooks, the young girl gets the idea of jogging Momma Lou's memory. During each visit, she shows her grandmother memorabilia from the scrapbook: Momma Lou dressing Tamika like an angel for a Christmas pageant, marching in a civil rights demonstration, and singing "We Shall Overcome" with other jailed protesters. One day Momma Lou recognizes a newspaper clipping and leads everybody in a celebration of song.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Getting to the Heart of the Matter Two titles teach life lessons. "I still don't see why we have to do this every week," says nine-year-old Tamika Louella Jordan about Sunday visits to the nursing home. "Half the time Momma Lou doesn't even know who we are." In Singing with Momma Lou by Linda Jacobs Altman, illus. by Larry Johnson, Tamika searches for a way to help her grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer's, access her memories. Back matter includes information about the disease and provides the names of three related organizations. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
What a great way to help young children identify with aging grandparents. Joyfully illustrated, the story tells of Tamika Louella Jordan, a young girl who is taken along each Sunday as her parents visit her grandmother, Momma Lou, in a nursing home. Tamika's grandmother has Alzheimer's Disease, which is slowly robbing her of her memory. Tomika finds the visits frustrating as her grandmother barely remembers Tamika, let alone any experience that the two had shared. Tamika decides to create a scrapbook of her grandmother's life to help jog her memory. As Tamika gathers memorabilia, she learns about Momma Lou's full life as an activist, mother and grandmother. Each time Tamika visits, she shares a portion of the scrapbook, which brings joy and recognition to Momma Lou. Often, they sing the songs that Momma Lou once sang as an activist in the Civil Rights Movement. The story illustrates the importance of making connections among the generations even when memories begin to fade. 2002, Lee & Low Books,
— Meredith Kiger
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-It's Sunday, and the rainy sky is as gray as Tamika's mood as she and her family set off for their weekly visit to the nursing home. The Jordans are going to see Momma Lou, who has Alzheimer's disease. The nine-year-old must reintroduce herself to this aged lady every week, and the whole situation makes her resentful and uncomfortable. Later, poring over old photo albums with her father, she sees Momma Lou dressed for her wedding in an African bridal robe, cuddling her newborn namesake, and dressing Tamika like an angel for her first Christmas pageant. Seeing these pictures makes the girl try to give Momma Lou her memories back by showing her the photos. Sometimes they seem to trigger a response in the old woman's eyes, especially the shot of her in jail following a protest march. "My secret life of crime," says Momma Lou, before bursting into laughter and song. Soon people in the nursing home are singing "We Shall Overcome" along with her. This is the last time that Tamika really talks with her grandmother, who declines rapidly after this visit, leaving the child sad, yet happy to have her memories. The book concludes with a brief description of the disease and a list of resources for further information. This bibliotherapeutic title will help to serve a need, and the story is straightforward and inspirational. Johnson's acrylic paintings are done in somber and institutional hues, which prove a suitable backdrop for this thoughtful story.-Anna DeWind Walls, Milwaukee Public Library Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tamika decides to try to restore her grandmother's memory in this realistic story about a family dealing with Alzheimer's Disease. At first, Tamika resents having to visit Momma Lou in the nursing home every Sunday. One night after a particularly difficult visit, Tamika's father pulls out the family photo album. Cherished snapshots from Momma Lou's full life marching for civil-rights causes, getting married in traditional African dress, and taking care of a young Tamika remind Tamika of "the days of secrets and dreams, when Momma Lou was her best friend in all the world," and she realizes she owes it to Momma Lou to make the visits more meaningful. Tamika's efforts to reconnect Momma Lou with her past by bringing photos and mementos to the nursing home sometimes work and sometimes don't, reflecting the sad reality of the progression of Alzheimer's. A major triumph occurs when Momma Lou is shown a picture of herself in jail, and begins to sing "We Shall Overcome," just as she did on that long-ago day; but it is her last moment of lucidity. Eventually Momma Lou slips away, but not before her memories have taken root in Tamika's heart. Soft-focus, acrylic illustrations convey the dedication and warmth of the family; in particular, Tamika's facial expressions aptly express the progression of frustration, love, excitement, and nostalgia she feels as she comes to terms with Momma Lou's illness. This worthy source for any family dealing with the anguish of Alzheimer's provides assurance to children that their experience isn't unique as well as a blueprint for a proactive approach even young children can undertake. (author's note, list of Alzheimer's Disease organizations) (Picture book. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584300403
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/2002
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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