Tell Me A Story, Mama

Tell me a story mama.jpg
Author: Angela Johnson

Bibliographic Data:
Reading Level - Ages 4 and up
Paperback - 32 pages
Publisher - Scholastic, 1 edition
Illustrated - David Soman
Language - English
ISBN - 978-0531070321

Author Biography:
Angela Johnson is an American children's book and poetry author with over 40 books since biginning her writing career in 1989. Her books for young children are simple and are about African American families, frienships, and common childhood experiences such as moving. Johnson was born in Tuskegee, Alabama. She grew up in Windham, Ohio with her brother and parents. Although she attended Kent State University, she left before earning her degree to focus on her writing. During this time, she worked as a nanny and was employed by author Cynthia Rylant, who reviewed Johnson's work and forwarded it to her publisher. She is the author of the Coretta Scott King Honor picture book When I Am Old with You; as well as A Sweet Smell of Roses, illustrated by Eric Velasquez; Just Like Josh Gibson, illustrated by Beth Peck; and I Dream of Trains, which was also illustrated by Loreng Long. She has won three Coretta Scott King Awards, one each for her novels Heaven, Toning the Sweep, and The First Part Last. In recognition of her outstanding talent, Angela was named a 2003 MacArthur Fellow.

This is a nice story about a mother and daughter and their special conversation time at night. The story begins when the little girl asks her mom to tell her stories from her childhood. However, the little girl knows them so well that she ends up telling her Mama about them; only pausing to gain further insight into the way things were, and that she has the stories right. The girl starts with the story of a neighborhood woman who was mean, used to scare Mama (as a girl) and her sister (Aunt Jessie), and holler at them. The old lady was so mean, she let her old bulldog out to bark at her Mama and Aunt Jessie. Her Mama went back and threw mud on her picket fence. Mama's mother or the little girl's grandmother made her Mama apologize and kissed her on the head. The story keeps going by the little girl asking if her grandmother is going to stay here forever. Her mother replies that she won't, but she will always love her. The girl is curious about the love between generations. She asks her Mama if her mom ever squeezed her. Her mom replied with a "yes". The story then goes on by the girl remembering the time when her mom found that puppy with no tail. Her mom kept it hidden until her mother found out. Her grandmother did not get angry, gave the puppy milk, and let him live in the milk crate. The story ends with her Mama and Aunt Jessie leaving their parents to St. Louis, because their parents had to work. Aunt Jessie cried and the little girl asked her Mama if it's all right to cry. The little girl then related her mom's experience with the time when her best friend moved away and she cried. The little girl then explains how her Grandmama was so sad and her Grandaddy bought her flowers and a candy bar. The little girl ends saying to her mother how she likes it when her mom tells her stories.

Review of the book:
This is a good book for children to learn about social studies for early childhood. It teaches them about the close relationships with families from generations. What I like about this book is that the little girl and her mother are so close, that she could tell her stories on her own with her mother's help. The story shows how this family was close and love each other so much. The book consists only on the dialogue between mother and daughter, which allows the stories and their reasurring lessons to flow naturally into one. It shows the love and caring that the memories convey, feelings which lend strength when the difficult times and seperations occurred. The illustrations show all full of positive emotions, resulting in beautiful childhood memories. It captures perfectly the way children make stories they love their own.

Analysis of a literary element:
I would use this book in my classroom to teach them about social studies and the theme about family. It conveys a message of love, caring, respect, and frienship between families. Having a good bond between families feels great, you feel loved, and happy. For example, when the little girl's grandmother made her mom apologize to the mean lady, her grandmother still kissed her on the head to show that she still loved her no matter what. The story said, "Grandmama made you apologize, but she kissed you hard on the head and gave you an extra sweet roll after dinner that night." The illustrations show the little girl's grandmother hugging her mother with happy facial expressions. Also, from this experience it teaches children that you have to respect people when the little girl's grandmother made her mother apologize to the lady. I like the end of the story, because it conveys a message to children that no matter where you have to go, your family still loves you and cares about you. The book said, "Grandmama cried when you moved away, Mama. She cried so hard that everybody at the airport looked at her and Grandaddy bought her flowers and a candy bar."