#SurvivalStories2021 Award-Winning Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Joy and Peace in Literature Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Black And Brown Mothers And The Joy They Bring

Cozbi A. Cabrera and Rosana Sullivan's tribute to colored mothers everywhere.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

Mommy Sayang [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Rosana Sullivan
Published by Disney Press (2019)
ISBN: 1368015905 (ISBN13: 9781368015905) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

I first read this book a year ago, along with La Luna (Amazon | Book Depository) by Enrico Casarosa – another Disney Pixar picturebook title. I do applaud Disney’s attempts to diversify the narratives they create – about time, really.

This picturebook is inspired by Rosana’s relationship with her mother and her Malaysian roots. I loved seeing Mommy Sayang’s kampung, reminding me of Singapore. The girl in this story is called Aleeya and it is clear how much she adores her mother.

While the father is alluded to visually (Aleeya appears to be a biracial child), it was really Aleeya’s mother that filled the pages. There is joy here that spills out of the pages:

When Aleeya’s mother fell ill, it was a difficult time for Aleeya whose every waking moment is usually spent with her vibrant, fun-loving mother. I especially loved reading the Author’s Note in the end when Rosana shared a bit of her background and what her mother means to her.

Me and Mama [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers (2020)
ISBN: 1534454217 (ISBN13: 9781534454217). Literary Awards: Caldecott Medal Nominee (2021), Coretta Scott King Award Nominee for Illustrator (2021). Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

I have been a fan of Cozbi A. Cabrera ever since I read her My Hair Is A Garden (Amazon | Book Depository). I was so thrilled to find this title on Overdrive and was not surprised to see it receive all them awards quite recently.

I want to be everywhere Mama is.

Just that line alone is enough to make me fall in love with this book. I was, and still continue to be, an unabashedly Mama’s Girl. I would like to think that my daughter is, too. There is anticipation of joy here; and a snug, warm, comforting feeling that can only be felt by one who is loved with such absoluteness.

There is Black pride and beauty in this book that did not have to be explicitly articulated – it simply is. It reminds me of this recent post I have just read on the significance of books that center Black joy. This book is clearly one of them.

The author also played with imagery and metaphor in this narrative, undergirding a level of complexity that suggests a respect for the child’s intelligence and a capacity to appreciate the obscure and the abstract. While there are delicious details and specificity that are also surfaced in both text and astounding art in this story, there is also subtlety – and much much joy and love. Find it and hug your mama.

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 25/26 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

8 comments on “[Monday Reading] Black And Brown Mothers And The Joy They Bring

  1. lindabaie

    Me and Mama is on my list, but I haven’t heard of Mommy Sayang, Myra and both sound beautiful.I’ll get to them some day! Thanks for sharing some pages, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Completely Full Bookshelf

    Both of these books sound (and look, from the example spreads) absolutely beautiful! Mother-child relationships always deserve appreciation. Thanks for the great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Myra. Both of these are stunningly beautiful. My library carries both of them so I will eventually get to them. When I’m not so sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The books are beautiful and I’m sure a lot of kids appreciate books where not everyone is blue eyed and blonde haired. Guess it is kind of like how folks my age just accepted that lots of the good books were about boys, and have been thrilled to see how many books there now are about girls who do stuff other than look cute.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This beautiful post makes me want to adopt grandchildren so I can start reading to them ASAP!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Vidya Tiru

    I hadn’t heard of both these books and they look so delightful. Thank you for sharing these Myra

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I LOVED Me and Mama!! I watched an interview with Cozi Cabrera about her transition from illustrating to writing and all about the inspiration for this book. It was so inspiring! Hope you have a wonderful reading week, Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: [My 2021 in Books] Favourite PictureBooks Read in 2021 – #Top21of21 – Gathering Books

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