In which Brianna reviews a special book about a girl, her mother, her grandmother, and their shared goal. This article contains affiliate links which help keep Busy Nest News going. Thanks for your continued support!
A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams
A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams, is told from the perspective of a little girl who is helping her mother save to buy a comfortable chair for their home. The year before, their family (the girl, her mother and grandmother) lost everything in a house fire. She explains that the community and the rest of their family came together to outfit their new home with their old furniture. The little family is very grateful, but they’re still saving every coin in a huge jar towards a new chair. That way Grandma will have somewhere comfortable to sit during the day, and Mother will have somewhere to rest after working at the diner all day. The three save together all year to make the precious purchase, and when the big day finally arrives, they can’t even wait for the chair to be delivered, making arrangements of their own to bring it home right away.
This is such a sweet story. The mother works so hard. Sometimes she loves her job waiting tables, sometimes she’s too tired to even count her tips at the end of the day. The little girl even works at the diner after school some days, filling ketchup bottles. I love how she tells the story so matter-of-factly, the way kids do. They’ll tell you about a fire and about furniture shopping in the same, earnest tone. And you wonder if they realize how heartbreaking their story is. The little girl doesn’t think this is a story about a poor family just getting by, however. To her, it’s about a family working hard to earn a small luxury that will make a big difference in their lives.
A Chair for My Mother is different from most stories about families in our library. It’s about a multi-generational, minority family, made up entirely of women (although another grandfather, uncle and aunt are mentioned a couple times). Their life is not easy, but they are grateful to have each other. I love that they can feel genuine gratitude for the help they’ve received, while acknowledging that a crucial need is going unfulfilled. The illustrations are vibrant paintings, which garnered Williams the coveted Caldecott Medal for 1983. I just love the palette, and the real looking people in all different shapes, sizes and colors.
I’m giving A Chair for My Mother four eggs. It only loses the one egg because it’s a little heavy. I’m not sure I want to read a story about a family losing everything every night at bedtime. When we do read it, though, it’s a delightful breath of fresh air; the pictures, story, and characters are so different from what we normally read, and that’s a good thing.
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Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
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