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I Remember 121
by Francine Haskins
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From Publishers Weekly
Haskins's vivid memories of the Washington, D.C., house that was her childhood home form the basis of this unusual picture book. Boisterous family gatherings, the birth of a new brother, playing dress-up with the neighbors-- all have their place in the treasure trove of the past. The feisty narrative is occasionally weighed down by righteous--and very unchildlike--prose, such as "she taught us the importance of knowledge, education and discipline," or "Daddy taught us the joy of laughter." On the whole, however, Haskins's look back to simpler days is an enjoyable excursion. Unfortunately, her garishly hued illustrations, peopled by oddly misshapen figures, render the book visually unappealing--which may significantly deter most young readers. Ages 4-12.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2-- In this collection of childhood memories, Haskins celebrates the warmth of family and community in ``121,'' the house in the African-American neighborhood of Washington, D. C. in which she grew up. She describes her first meeting with her baby brother when she was three, the smells and tastes of delicious meals with her extended family, being chased by the neighborhood dog, being punished for leaving school early, and other joys and adventures. As one might expect from a storyteller, her writing successfully captures the immediacy and rhythms of speech. Haskins's gaily colored illustrations in ink, magic marker, and wax crayons have the freshness of children's drawings. The irregular perspective and stylized figures with their wide eyes and large hands and feet create a mood of innocence and optimism. But things change of course, and the family moves to a new ``. . . house with a front yard with flowers and a big cherry tree in the back yard. We were moving to a new home and adventure. I was nine.'' This book should encourage parents (and grandparents) to share their own memories with their children. Beginning readers will enjoy it too. Here's hoping for a sequel about Haskins's suburban adventures. --Susan Giffard, Englewood Public Library, NJ
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
An African American affectionately recalls her childhood on ``S'' Street in Washington, D.C.--neighborhood play, special occasions like the birth of her brother, and celebrations with her big extended family. The plotless narrative doesn't have the transcendent imagination of Ringgold's Tar Beach (1991), nor do these illustrations have as much popular appeal. But Haskins's energetic figures with their large, gentle black eyes and her vibrantly off-balance perspectives and deft simplifications combine to evoke the setting and the experience in an unusually fresh and original style. A fine debut. (Picture book. 3-8) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Card catalog description
The author describes her family life and daily activities from the ages of three to nine and celebrates the experience of growing up in a traditional African-American community in Washington, D.C.
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