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Big Momma Makes the World

by Phyllis Root

Publishers Weekly In this sassy creation myth that tweaks the first chapter of Genesis, Big Momma "roll[s] up her sleeves" and gets down to business ("Wasn't easy, either, with that little baby sitting on her hip"). " `Light,' said Big Momma. And you better believe there was light.' " Here Oxenbury shows mother and child jubilantly emerging from a watery world ("There was water, water everywhere") to greet the light at the surface. At the close of each day, a pleased Big Momma views her handiwork and pronounces a refrain that echoes the King James Bible "That's good. That's real good." On the sixth day, in a sly nod to another take on the world's beginnings, Big Momma "finish[es] things off in one big bang"-fashioning a host of creatures. As a final touch, the matriarch uses "leftover mud" to shape "some folks to keep me company" and charges them with caring for her creation. Root infuses her tale with a joyful spirit, and her lyrical vernacular trips off the tongue. Zaftig Big Momma and her chubby cherub are equally winning, and Oxenbury playfully tracks the creation process with compositions that move through subtle shades of blue and black and then transform with the addition of the golden shades of sunshine, the verdant greens of earth and an explosion of hues as birds, fish and more multiply across the pages. A gentle spin on the Genesis story sure to get youngsters talking. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-Here's a creation myth that casts the creator as a full-figured, down-home Big Momma, with a baby on her hip and a pile of laundry and dishes to do. Oxenbury's luminous, oversized acrylics perfectly capture the strong, no-nonsense personality of this barefoot creator capable of making and moving mountains. Big Momma doesn't mess around, as she commands each part of the world to appear: "`Earth,' said Big Momma, `get over here.'" Then, at the end of each day, she looks around and says, "That's good. That's real good." By the sixth day, she still doesn't have anyone to talk to or keep her company, so she makes folks in all colors, shapes, and sizes to sit on her front porch and swap stories. Before resting on the seventh day, Big Momma tells her people to take good care of the world she made for them. She keeps an eye on them from her perch in the sky, occasionally interrupting her chores to warn, "Better straighten up down there," but is ultimately pleased with her handiwork. This book's interpretation may offend many who take the biblical creation story literally, but for those who are open to variations on a theme, Big Momma's tale is an utter delight.-Laurie von Mehren, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Parma, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list PreS^-Gr. 2. A raucous, joyous version of the creation story starring a big, bossy woman who knows what she wants and how to get it: "When Big Momma made the world, she didn't mess around." Down in the infinite water, her naked little baby on her hip, she sees what needs to be done: "Light," says Big Momma. "And you'd better believe there was light." She also creates dark on the first day, and for the next five days she's one busy lady. Sky, sun, moon, earth, flora, and fauna--there's so much to do, and after she does it, Big Momma always says approvingly, "That's good. That's real good." On the seventh day she rests, leaving the world to its own devices, though sometimes she looks down and tells her final creation--humans--that they'd "better straighten up." Sometimes, when she and baby look down, they like what they see. Root's text is strong and sassy, with a down-home cadence that has immediate appeal, and Oxenbury's Big Momma is the perfect embodiment of the story's earth mother--no particular race or color, just full of affection and determination. Some of the pictures are wonderful (a double-page spread of animals bursting out of the sun); some, such as the one of modern-day humans looking up at the sky, are more mundane. Yet overall, this is an exciting, new version of one of the world's oldest stories. And the baby is pretty cute, too. --Ilene Cooper

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-In this down-to-earth look at the creation, Big Momma calmly faces each new challenge and takes care of business and her baby besides. The spare, folksy language and glorious larger-than-life art reflect the enormity of the task and a reverence for the creator's handiwork. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.