Coming On Home Soon
Illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Do you know that I love you more than anything?
More than rain. More than snow.
Times are hard during World War II with the men away fighting, but Ada Ruth holds her Mama's words in her heart when Mama goes to Chicago for work. Mama is going to try to get a job washing the trains on the railroad. Ada Ruth stays with Grandma waiting for Mama to come home, clinging to Mama's words, "I love you more than rain. More than snow." They wait day in and day out for a letter from Mama, but they hear nothing.
A stray kitten lands on their doorstep and Grandma warns that they can't keep it. Food is too dear to keep a cat. But part of the beauty of the story is what isn't said as well as what is. The kitten keeps showing up in the E. B. Lewis's beautiful paintings and comforting Ada Ruth's heart.
Fall changes to winter, and the snow falls. Still no letter from Mama. The radio tells of men dying in the war. Ada Ruth and Grandma hunt possum and rabbit in the winter woods for food. Finally Mama's letter comes, changing everything, giving Grandma and Ada Ruth hope, promising that Mama will be home soon. The final page needs no words, only Lewis's painting.
Woodson and Lewis make a great team in this 2007-2008 Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee. Lewis's paintings capture the unspoken essence of the story, the yearning for Mama, the fear, the hunger, the courage, and the love on the homefront of World War II. The book is written for young readers, probably second to fourth graders, though first graders can enjoy having it read to them. This would make a good story to supplement World War II history for youngsters.
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