- publisher and date: Gulliver Books, Harcourt, Inc. 2001
- genre: historical fiction
- age/grade: grades k-2
Synopsis (from www.bn.com)
The best part of Christmas is the whole family savoring Mim’s belly-hum jam together. But this Christmas, Pap is far away in New York City, digging a hole for something called the subway, and his family is missing him something awful. Pap aches to be home, but the heartless foremen of his dig site have decided there will be no break, not even for Christmas. It looks like it’s going to be one lonely holiday for everyone . . . until young Saraleen and Royce send their pap a gift that may just inspire a Christmas miracle.
The recipient of a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and a two-time Caldecott Honor illustrator have created a warm and magical holiday classic about the power of love, complete with the recipe for Mim’s Christmas jam.
Andrea Davis Pinkney grew up during the civil rights movement. Her parents were involved in standing up for social change. Andrea has written many biographies on influential African Americans along with various fictional and historical fiction work.
Character/Setting – The character we see most in the story is Pap. He is shown as a family man, working hard to take care of his loved ones. This is all seen through the setting of the building of the New York City subway system.
Style/Tone– The text has a sing-song quality to it: from the orders of the bossy foreman to various words and phrases sprinkled throughout the text.
Illustrations – Brian Pinkney’s illustrations beautifully add another layer to the text. From the Publisher’ s Weekly review (found below): Vibrant scratchboard compositions skillfully contrast the dank underground construction site with the warmth of home.
- Vocabulary – Great vocabulary is found in this text: spruce (multiple meanings), subway, belly-hum, “butter up the bosses.”
- Cooking – Follow the recipe in the back to make Mim’s Belly-Hum Jam
- Building New York’s Subway – http://www.nycsubway.org/articles/buildingsubway.html
- The Secret Subway– http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/technology/nyunderground/secret.html
- Metropolitan Transportation Authority – Subway Centennial – http://www.mta.info/mta/centennial.htm
Publisher’s Weekly (from www.bn.com)
In the Pinkneys’ (Duke Ellington) hands, a tasty family tradition and New York City history make a flavorsome pairing. It’s 1915, and Christmas just isn’t the same when Pap must be away from Mim and their children while he works to build the New York City subway system. But a jar of Mim’s “belly-hum jam” unexpectedly works its own small miracles. Vibrant scratchboard compositions skillfully contrast the dank underground construction site with the warmth of home. Ages 3-7. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal (from www.bn.com)
PreS-Gr 2-During the Christmas season of 1915, Pap can’t be with his family in Pennsylvania because he’s digging the new subway tunnels in New York City. To cheer him up, his children send him a jar of their mother’s famous belly-hum jam, one taste of which softens the hearts of two mean foremen, who give the workers Christmas off. The scratchboard illustrations are equally effective whether depicting a snowy landscape, a homey kitchen, or the gloomy dankness of the subway tunnel (where the jar of jam glows like a ruby). A satisfying slice of life with a rich and delicious message.-E. M. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.