STARRED REVIEW
August 24, 2020

Me & Mama

illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Cozbi A. Cabrera brings a joyous Black family and their eloquent yet cozy home to vivid life in brightly colored, highly detailed acrylic illustrations.
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“I want to be everywhere Mama is,” says a girl as she heads down the stairs one morning in the house she shares with her parents, her brother and her dog, Max. Her love for her family is clear, but she is especially taken with Mama, who sings a good morning greeting, “bright as sun,” to her daughter.

The two spend the day entire together. They comb one another’s hair, take a walk outside, sing and splashing in puddles, read together at bedtime and more—but the book’s central focus is on the particularities of Mama’s world, the details that her daughter takes in over the course of the day. She lovingly catalogs items that belong to Mama, including a fragile, floral-patterned mug, a red toothbrush, an oatmeal bowl, a fuchsia hair barrette and a pair of tall, red boots, comparing them to her own possessions. In a deft touch, the items are featured on the book’s endpapers. When Mama reads to the girl and her brother at night, the girl even observes Mama’s shining teeth as she throws back her head to laugh. She’s deeply smitten, and it’s easy to see why.

Author-illustrator Cozbi A. Cabrera occasionally incorporates evocative figurative language into the girl’s narration as to describe their day. “The clouds outside are wearing shadows,” the girl declares before she and Mama leave for their walk. As they sing to the sky during their rainy stroll, Mama tells the girl that a song is “highs and lows.” At bedtime, a “sleepy sun” turns the sky pink before darkness settles in.

Cabrera brings a joyous Black family and their eloquent yet cozy home to vivid life in brightly colored, highly detailed acrylic illustrations. The book’s pace slows considerably toward the ending, as the girl falls asleep and recalls the day she and Mama spent together. One spread depicts merely darkness with rich shades of blue filling every inch of the spread; it’s a lovely moment in which Cabrera lets the story breathe.

Me & Mama is a picture book love letter that captures the extraordinary bond between a mother and daughter on a completely ordinary day.

ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Me & Mama's editor/publisher, Denene Millner, goes behind the scenes of the first season of her new imprint, Denene Millner Books.

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Me & Mama

Me & Mama

illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Denene Millner
ISBN 9781534454217

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