From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3 - The relationship between a mother and daughter is pushed to its limits when Mama is incarcerated. Sugar clings to the memory of her mother's stories and lives for her weekly visits to the prison when her grandmother is feeling up to the bus ride. On their shared birthday, Mama gives Sugar a special gift and a special way to feel close to her. Although this may be an issue that needs to be addressed, and although there is an audience for whom this story may be appropriate, the text and artwork present some problems. While the book does not go so far as to glorify imprisonment, it certainly does not present a realistic view of an extremely difficult way of life and the challenges it presents in maintaining a relationship with a child. In an attempt to emphasize the enduring bond between mother and daughter, the writing is often clichéd and the illustrations seem to exhibit an unnatural, idealistic brightness. The word "prison" is never mentioned, and the character of Big Roger is never clearly identified, possibly leaving young readers with more questions than answers about a very sensitive issue. - Holly T. Sneeringer, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PreS-Gr. 3. Like Jacqueline Woodson's Visiting Day
(2002) and the other books in the Read-alikes, "Parents in Prison" [BKL N 1 02], this is a child's story of visiting an incarcerated parent. The warm, first-person narrative and realistic double-page art show the loving bond between Sugar and her single-parent mom, as Sugar remembers Mama's loving stories about the joy of Sugar's birth--on Mama's own birthday. Sugar now lives with Grammy, and they travel every Sunday on three long bus rides to visit Mama. For their shared birthday, Mama makes Sugar a gift book full of the stories Sugar remembers. There's no mention of Mama's crime or of the length of her sentence; the focus is on the sadness of the separation. Children who know this world, as well as those who don't, will be moved by the longing in the close-up of the parent and child's warm embrace in the room crowded with other visiting families. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved