East Texas, the 1930s—the Great Depression. Award-winning author Jonah Winter's father grew up with seven siblings in a tiny house on the edge of town. In this picture book, Winter shares his family history in a lyrical text that is clear, honest, and utterly accessible to young readers, accompanied by Kimberly Bulcken Root's rich, gorgeous illustrations. Here is a celebration of family and of making do with what you have—a wonderful classroom book that's also perfect for children and parents to share.
Root's sun-faded, ink-and-wash drawings make gentle companions for Winter's (Here Comes the Garbage Barge!) account of his father's hardscrabble Depression-era childhood. She softens the rough edges and sees the beauty of the East Texas country where Grandpa Winter lives with his wife and eight children. Directly addressing his father in second-person narration, Winter pulls no punches about the humiliation Grandpa Winter faced to keep his family fed ("Some mornings... he had to run a footrace against other men like him./ If he won, that meant he got to work that day"); Root (Whatever Happened to the Pony Express?) shows Grandpa Winter crossing the finish line a stride ahead of the other men. "But you've also said/ you never went hungry," Winter recalls, as Root draws the family gathered around a table spread with vegetables from the garden. There's time for fun, too, such as a trip to the icehouse in the old Model T. Winter's writing is thoughtful and deeply felt. Root's portraits of the boy's solitary exploration convey the force of Winter's message about "learning to love those things/ that didn't cost a single penny." Ages 5 9.