Morning Glory Monday
Publication Date: September 30, 2003
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Life in a tenement during the 1930s is difficult for anyone. No wonder Mama is homesick for the sunny south of Italy, where flowers bloom and the sky is always blue. Her little daughter tries everything to cheer her up, from hand stands and jokes to a trip to Coney Island. Nothing seems to work. But at Coney Island, the child wins a packet of seeds. Although it isn’t the stuffed toy she wanted, it turns out to hold a treasure. When the seeds are planted, they become morning glories. Their beauty reaches Mama, and everyone else who sees them.
Based on a true episode in New York’s Lower East Side, where the residents of 97 Orchard Street cheered up their bleak homes with morning glories, this is a story with universal appeal. By introducing simple beauty into our daily lives, even the grayest of places, and hearts, can be transformed.
Arlene Alda’s lyrical text is perfectly complemented by Maryann Kovalski’s marvelous art, which evokes the great illustrators of the 1930s.
Arlene Alda is an award-winning photographer and writer whose work has appeared in Life, Vogue, and People and in numerous galleries. Her books for children include Sheep, Sheep, Sheep, Help Me Fall Asleep; Arlene Alda’s 1 2 3; and Hurry Granny Annie. A native New Yorker, Arlene Alda and her husband, actor Alan Alda, divide their time between New York and Los Angeles.
Maryann Kovalski is the author and illustrator of many, many books. She attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and now lives in Toronto.
“Alda, whose photographs brought to life a Lower East Side tenement in 97 Orchard Street, New York, returns to that setting for this inspiring picture-book portrait of immigrant life…. Kovalski's…openhearted watercolor and charcoal renderings make an ideal match for this urban fairy tale, while her characterizations possess poignant emotional depth – as the enchanted flowers lift Mama’s depression, the happiness and relief in her daughter’s face radiates from the page.”
“The cheerful tone and fanciful plot will enchant readers…. [E]ntertaining…”
–School Library Journal
“Alda convincingly potrays tenement life and its hardships in small details…. Kovalski’s charcoal and watercolour illustrations are equally authentic…”
–The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, University of Illinois
“Maryann Kovalski’s delightful illustrations add charm and humour to this…tale which takes place in New York City in the 1930's…. Kovalski captures the spirit of the Lower East Side, with its teeming activity, abundant humanity and colourful ethnicity.”
“The author’s depiction of depression-era New York is beautifully rendered…”
“The power of things beautiful to bring great joy is evident in this most enjoyable story. Maryann Kovalski uses her own best magic to bring to life the…era, and to introduce us to some truly unique and wonderful characters.”
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