Title: Coming on Home Soon
Genre: Picture Book (my choice)
Bibliographic Information: Woodson, Jacqueline. Coming on Home Soon. Illus. by E.B. Lewis, New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2004.
Caldecott Medal 2005, Horn Book (2)
Summary: During wartime, Ada Ruth's mama goes to Chicago to find a job. Ada Ruth stays back with her grandmother and waits for her mama's return. She is very upset about her mama leaving, however a little kitten comes along and gives her love while her mama is gone. In the end Ada Ruth's mama sends money and says she will be "coming on home soon".
Response: This book is a great story of sadness and hope. The author and illustrator do a fantastic job at portraying these two emotions through their words and pictures. The author chooses to use italicized words for dialogue and normal print for narration. Ada Ruth narrates the story and you can feel her emotions through the words the author writes on the page. The illustrator also helps to portray these emotions through the vivid pictures he paints in the story.
The illustrations in the book look like paintings using dull natural colors that portray the time period. The pictures are less saturated, and have blurred lines. The hues in the pictures help to set the mood and then dull colors in the book help to portray the sadness that continues throughout the story (Nodelman & Reimer, 281). The facial expressions that the illustrator paints matches the story and makes you feel the emotion that Ada Ruth is feeling.
This book is great at showing, historically, how African American women had to move to the city to be able to find work during the war. It shows children that during this time in history many people were poor and were struggling for money. The author tells this story from the child's point of view and does a great job at portraying Ada Ruth's feelings of sadness, confusion, and hope.
Using this book in your classroom would be great to supplement a unit on African American history, or even American history. If you are talking about wartime, students will be able to read a book from the point of view of a child similar to their age who had to lose her mother to go help the war. In your class you can talk about how many people women had to go off to work in the factories to help the war effort.
Here is a website that teachers can use to help teach WWI and WWII lessons.