From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3-After her father died, eight-year-old Zettie and her mother left Jamaica in search of education and a better life in America. They now live in an old car. Zettie's daily routine includes waking up to blaring sirens and flashing lights, washing in cold water in a park rest room, being bullied by boys at school, and feeling hungry and resentful. Spending time with a friend who is also homeless, and a reassuring encounter with a concerned policeman bring comfort at crucial moments, but the girl's life is not an easy one. Not since Maurice Sendak's We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy (HarperCollins, 1993) has a picture book dealing with homelessness maintained such emotional intensity. The illustrations call to mind images by Georges Rouault. Pedlar's figures are defined with thick black lines; exaggerated features and the expressionistic use of color accentuate the family's suffering. In the end, Mama's successful day helping at a Health Fair and the promise of a job lead to a bed and shower in a motel-and hope. Children will be moved by Zettie's plight and relieved that there are options.Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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K-Gr. 3. The kids at school call her Junk Car Zettie. After Papa died in Jamaica, Zettie and Mama came to America, where they now live in the city in the backseat of their car, while Mama tries to go to school and also earn money to pay rent for a room. This picture-book brings close the harsh realities of being homeless, scavenging for food, washing in the park rest room, being harassed by police. The illustrations are in an intensely emotional modernist style with exaggerated facial expressions and body language. The strong, black-outlined figures are scary at times, but then so is the nightmarish reality of being without shelter. At the end of the book, Gunning asks kids to get involved in helping the homeless, and many children will want to talk about the idea with adults close to them. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved