Horn Book Guide Reviews

When Ernestine confides to her great-aunt how much she wishes her parents could afford to send her by train to visit her North Carolina relatives, Aunt Odessa advises her to find a way to make up the fare by saving her parents some money. In this prequel to [cf2]Back Home[cf1] (Dial), Gloria Jean Pinkney's quiet story and Jerry Pinkney's illustrations provide a loving portrait of an African-American family working to make a dream come true. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

Publishers Weekly Reviews

The Pinkneys team up once again for a prequel to Back Home , this time depicting young Ernestine in her Philadelphia neighborhood just prior to the train trip to North Carolina that is the subject of the earlier book. Ernestine has heard so much about her relatives and Lumberton, N.C., the town where she was born, that she's dying to see them. But the journey south costs more than the family can afford, so Ernestine makes do by taking Sunday outings to the train station. There she can watch the cars pull out and dream about being on one. After some artful appeals and money-saving sacrifices, Ernestine's travel fantasy becomes a reality. Gloria Pinkney skillfully captures the fidgety impatience of childhood. Her level-headed adult characters speak knowingly without sounding maudlin. A few colorful phrases and period details, such as riding a trolley and listening to the Sunday Gospel Hour on the radio, give the text an authentic flair. Jerry Pinkney's pale watercolors include several tender, warmly lit portraits. The yellowish-brown backgrounds, unfortunately, add an almost dulling sameness to many scenes. Fans of Back Home will especially enjoy this book, yet it stands on its own as well, affording readers a handsome window onto one family's history. Ages 5-9. (June) Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information.