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Ma Dear's Aprons

by Patricia C.  McKissack
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Published by An Anne Schwartz Book/Atheneum, 1997
32 pages
ISBN: 0-689-81051-2

Ages 4 - 7

History comes to life in a story inspired by an apron that once belonged to Patricia McKissack's great-grandmother, an African-American domestic worker who lived in rural Alabama a hundred years ago. Young David Earl can always tell the day of the week by the apron his mother is wearing when he wakes up in the morning. Each apron is associated with a specific chore to be accomplished on a particular day: Monday, for example, is wash day and Ma Dear wears the apron with the big pockets across the front that hold clothes pins. On Tuesday she wears a bright yellow apron to remind herself of sunshine on a long day of ironing. Not only does McKissack's story pay tribute to the women who worked hard to support their families, it also demonstrates some of the ingenious ways parents helped their children cope with drudgery: "Inch along, inch along, like an inch worm," Ma Dear sings to her son as he helps her scrub floors. Later on he sticks to the arduous task of pulling weeds by pretending to be an inchworm. Floyd Cooper's compelling brown-tone paintings give the story a strong sense of its historical setting, even as they provide a timeless quality in a story about the love between a mother and her child. Highly Commended, Charlotte Zolotow Award CCBC categories: Picture Books; Historical People, Places and Events.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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