From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4-Written to celebrate the life of Josephine Carroll Smith, a respected African-American educator, this fictionalized picture book tells the story of one of the many young black men to whom she opened her home and heart. The third-person narrative describes the experiences of a boy who travels to Washington, DC, for his first meeting with the woman who had welcomed his father into her home when he was a student. The child isn't sure that he wants to stay for the planned overnight visit; to him, she seems like a giant, tall, stern, and foreboding, but Miss Josie encourages his love of drawing, and the time passes quickly. As he grows up, attends college, marries, starts a family, and embarks on an artistic career, she is always there to play a supportive and nurturing role in his life. When it is time for his own son to meet Miss Josie, she is not so tall, but "in the ways that mattered, still the same." The large, brightly colored folk paintings, done in oil and collage, are in harmony with the quiet, lyrical narrative. A short biography of Smith is appended. This story of a remarkable woman makes a good addition to Black History Month curriculum studies.Heather E. Miller, Homewood Public Library, AL
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
K-Gr. 3. A child of ex-slaves, Josephine Carroll Smith ("Miss Josie") became a much-loved teacher and then Director of Elementary Education in Washington, D.C. Written to honor her memory, this picture book tells the fictionalized story of one young boy who is inspired by Miss Josie to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. The biography-fiction mix doesn't quite work here, especially because the message is heavy and the inspirational success story too idyllic. But the boy's viewpoint is a good way to bring the child's mentor close. At first she overwhelms him ("she was like a giant"). Even in college, he is wary--until she gives him the strength to stand up to his loving dad and "make pictures." Andrews' stunning collage-and-oil art expresses the personal relationship with drama and clarity. At first Miss Josie looms over the child, and, later, in one beautiful scene he hides from her overpowering presence in a crowded train station. But at the end he is the giant before his easel. A note at the back fills in Smith's life story. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved