Grimes, Nikki. A Day With Daddy. Illus. by Nicole Tadgell. 2004. 32p. Scholastic, paper, $3.99 (0-439-56850-1). Gr. 1.
Upbeat without being preachy or sentimental, these titles in the new Just for You! easy-reading series tell realistic stories of African American family life with excitement and grace. In Jumping the Broom, Erin’s big sister is getting married. Everyone is happy except Erin, who can’t find the right gift––until Grandmother tells her about jumping the broom, a wedding tradition that started among slaves. The characters are beautifully defined in both words and pictures, and many kids will recognize Erin’s pride in honoring her roots. In A Day with Daddy, a boy living with his mom talks about having fun with Dad on their weekly outing. Grimes draws on personal memories of growing up in a divorced family, and her simple, poetic words describe what goes on until the boy returns home with “enough happy / to last me one week.” The separation is here as well as the joy, and Tadgell’s exuberant watercolors show the family bonds, the longing, and the love. Both books include excellent notes for adults and suggestions of things they can do with their children. ––Hazel Rochman