Book Review: A Chair For My Mother

Lauren Zlotnick

Author/Illustrator: Vera B. Williams

Age Range: 4-8 years old

Book Review: A Chair For My Mother

          A Chair For My Mother, a fictional picture book for children ages 4-8 years old is written and illustrated by the award-winning Vera B. Williams. Williams captures her readers with bright and vibrant illustrations and heart-warming relationships.   She touches on a variety of relatable themes for children and their families that could be discussed within a classroom. The first theme is teamwork on small and large scales. Rosa a young Latin-American girl helps her Mother at their local restaurant to save every coin they get and on a larger scale, her entire community comes together to help her family build a new life after a devastating fire.  Another theme is perseverance.   Rosa’s house burned down, but instead of her family’s spirit perishing in the ashes, they worked hard and were able to overcome hardship and buy a new comfortable chair, binding their team or family even closer.

The author’s purpose in A Chair For My Mother, is to show the importance of family, illustrate growing up in a female headed non-traditional household and making the best out of an unfortunate situation.  This story, as told by a young Latin-American girl in a single parent home with strong values and a hard work ethic, tries to make ends meet by saving every coin they receive. In any classroom, there is a diverse group of students, with different backgrounds and non-traditional households, which makes this story relatable to many children. Additionally, Vera B. Williams shows her readers that with compassion and persistence, anything is possible and that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Along with the author’s thematic relationships, Williams’ use of vibrant colors is what initially draws her readers into picking up this story. Williams decorates her pages with very aesthetically pleasing colors such as reds, pinks, blues, yellows and greens, which really bring the pages to life.   She tactfully paints the borders on each page to set the tone for her readers, which helps to tell the story. When the family is feeling hopeful, Vera B. Williams uses roses around the borders to foreshadow the pattern on the giant chair they will soon purchase. When Rosa is looking into her burnt down home, the use of darker grays and blacks to line the borders with black wilted flowers portrays sadness. When the family is moving into their new apartment after the fire, Williams the borders change to bright green and blooming flowers to show growth and a new beginning.

This story would be an excellent addition to any classroom, not only to brighten up a library, but to teach students many wonderful lessons about life and current issues in the world. Specifically, a teacher could build a lesson on community. Teachers can use this story to introduce what a community is, different types of communities, families within communities and the importance of coming together for your community during times of happiness and sorrow. Home At Last, another story written and illustrated by Vera B. Williams could be included in this library, as it also describes another non-traditional household overcoming adversity.  In this story a family comprised of two Dads, adopt a young boy who struggles adjusting to his new home and is unable to sleep. Like A Chair For My Mother, this book also discusses the themes of family, perseverance and community.  In conclusion, A Chair For My Mother not only discusses current issues that families around the world face today, it also highlights the diversity that characterizes our society.

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