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Big Momma Makes the World
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Big Momma Makes the World

4.5 2
by Phyllis Root, Helen Oxenbury (Illustrator)

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"Among the many creation retellings and variations, this one takes the cake." — THE HORN BOOK (starred review)

When Big Momma makes the world, she doesn’t mess around. With a baby on her hip and laundry piling up, she demands light and dark, earth and sky, creepers and crawlers, and lots of folks to trade stories with on the front


"Among the many creation retellings and variations, this one takes the cake." — THE HORN BOOK (starred review)

When Big Momma makes the world, she doesn’t mess around. With a baby on her hip and laundry piling up, she demands light and dark, earth and sky, creepers and crawlers, and lots of folks to trade stories with on the front porch. And when the work is done, Big Momma, she is pleased all right. "That’s good," she says. "That’s real good." With down-home language and infectious rhythms, Phyllis Root spins a creation myth like no other, brilliantly illustrated by the incomparable Helen Oxenbury.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this sassy creation myth that tweaks the first chapter of Genesis, Big Momma "roll[s] up her sleeves" and gets down to business ("Wasn't easy, either, with that little baby sitting on her hip"). " `Light,' said Big Momma. And you better believe there was light.' " Here Oxenbury shows mother and child jubilantly emerging from a watery world ("There was water, water everywhere") to greet the light at the surface. At the close of each day, a pleased Big Momma views her handiwork and pronounces a refrain that echoes the King James Bible "That's good. That's real good." On the sixth day, in a sly nod to another take on the world's beginnings, Big Momma "finish[es] things off in one big bang"-fashioning a host of creatures. As a final touch, the matriarch uses "leftover mud" to shape "some folks to keep me company" and charges them with caring for her creation. Root infuses her tale with a joyful spirit, and her lyrical vernacular trips off the tongue. Zaftig Big Momma and her chubby cherub are equally winning, and Oxenbury playfully tracks the creation process with compositions that move through subtle shades of blue and black and then transform with the addition of the golden shades of sunshine, the verdant greens of earth and an explosion of hues as birds, fish and more multiply across the pages. A gentle spin on the Genesis story sure to get youngsters talking. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
This is the revised story of the seven days of creation, with a mother earth figure, Big Mama, as the creator. With her child in tow, Big Mama begins with water, then light, dark, the sun, the moon, the earth, plants and animals, and lastly, people. Each day, each creation is filled with wonder as she describes her reasons for it, like 'need some grass to wriggle my toes in' or 'I need some folks to keep me company.' Told in folk-tale style with plenty of exaggeration, Big Mama admonishes the folks she has created to take good care of the world. Beautifully illustrated, the story may need some explanation as a folk tale to youngsters who have learned another story of creation. Folk tales traditionally use animals or imaginary people to explain life's experiences and this book should be regarded as such. 2003, Candlewick Press,
— Meredith Kiger
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-In this down-to-earth look at the creation, Big Momma calmly faces each new challenge and takes care of business and her baby besides. The spare, folksy language and glorious larger-than-life art reflect the enormity of the task and a reverence for the creator's handiwork. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this feminization of the Creation myth, the creator of the world is a woman with a baby on her hip. The baby doesn't slow her down a bit; just like in the biblical version, the creation takes place over six days, with a rest on the seventh. Folksy rhyming verse appears in large type on the verso of each page, with the accompanying recto completely filled by full-bleed, dramatic illustrations. Big Momma's ambitious activities are described in countrified vernacular: "There was water, water everywhere, and Big Momma saw what needed to be done all right. So she rolled up her sleeves and went to it." Her commands take a similar tone; she admonishes the newly created dark and light: "You two got work to do. Don't you be fooling around none." In an echo of the traditional text, she comments at the end of each day, "That's good. That's real good." The acrylic paintings aptly convey the tone of each day's production; they start out monochromatic until Big Momma has created the sun. The subsequent spreads are riots of color: the contented baby sits in a lush green field, munching on fresh fruits on the fourth day; brightly colored fish and birds appear on the fifth, animals blast out of a bright yellow "big bang" and people of all colors appear on the sixth. Big Momma's sense of contentment as she settles in with the new folks to tell stories and rest on the seventh day is contagious; this beautifully illustrated, oversized paean to the Earth and to motherhood is a welcome addition to the creation-story pantheon. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
10.60(w) x 11.75(h) x 0.40(d)
AD600L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Phyllis Root has written many books for children, including Oliver Finds His Way, What Baby Wants, Rattletrap Car, and Kiss the Cow! She says that the idea for Big Momma Makes the World came from a long-ago family car trip through the West. "My children were restless, yet fascinated by the unfamiliar scenery. They made up stories about why the landscape looked the way it did, and God and a baby were in lots of the stories." Phyllis Root lives in Minnesota with her two daughters.

Helen Oxenbury is one of today’s most acclaimed illustrators. Among her books are Lewis Carroll’s ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND, which won a Kate Greenaway Medal; Trish Cooke’s SO MUCH; Martin Waddell’s FARMER DUCK; and Michael Rosen’s WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT. She says of working on BIG MOMMA MAKES THE WORLD, "As I read Phyllis’s text, I imagined Big Momma as part Buddha, part housewife. . . . It was intimidating to create a whole world, but very enjoyable."

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Big Momma Makes the World 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
AmandaG19 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. It has such a cute spin to the usual Genesis story of creation. My favorite part of it all is that it is a "Momma" who is the creator. I love how everything she creates is to help her out with her busy "momma" lifestyle, like the moon so she knows when it is nap time for baby, the ground for resting on, and people to talk to so she is not lonely no more. The illustrations are beautiful. There is no particular race to Big Momma in the story because is always the color of what she is creating, blue in the water, green for the land, etc. This was such a cute story to read and will definitely become a part of my children's books collection!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about a mamma with a baby. One of my favorite parts was when big mamma says 'That's good, that's real good' and another is when it says the little baby is sucking on a mango. I love the art. I like the part where it says 'Light, said Big Mamma, and you better believe there was light!'. This book makes me feel happy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This darling book spins its own inspired version of the Genesis story. A real winner to read to kids of all ages. This will be a favorite you won't mind reading many times.