“A tender tribute to nontraditional families bonded by love.”
Carol Olivia Clementine lives with Mama Rose, who is just like a mama to her, though not blood related. Beginning with the morning routine, the story progressively demonstrates the small or substantial, though all significant, ways Mama Rose cares for Carol, just as a biological mother would. The overflowing gratitude Carol has for Mama Rose is evident in the examples Carol gives of the parental role Mama Rose plays in her life, combing Carol’s hair, calling out “I love you, Ladybug” when Carol leaves for school, and reminding Carol to eat her vegetables and clean her room—showing that “just like a mama,” Carol is encouraged, disciplined, and loved. While the story has an overarching note of positivity, each page is full of emotions that combine to form a large spectrum of feelings in the entirety of the book, including the feelings of sadness and longing Carol has for her currently absent parents. Each emotion is impressively and relatably displayed through the diction, the facial expressions, and the body language portrayed in the memorable illustrations. Carol’s tender story and Mama Rose’s example of unconditional love combine to create an inspirational tribute to caretakers who have stepped in during a time of need or any non-traditional family related by more than blood—love.
Celebrate the heart connection between adopted children and the forever families who welcome them with kindness, care, and unconditional love in this powerful picture book from the author of Honey Baby Sugar Child.
Carol Olivia Clementine lives with Mama Rose. Mama Rose is everything—tender and sweet. She is also as stern and demanding as any good parent should be. In the midst of their happy home, Carol misses her mother and father. She longs to be with them. But until that time comes around, she learns to surrender to the love that is present. Mama Rose becomes her “home.” And Carol Olivia Clementine concludes that she loves Miss Rose, “just like a mama.”
This sweet read-aloud is, on the surface, all about the everyday home life a caregiver creates for a young child: she teachers Clementine how to ride a bike, clean her room, tell time. A deeper look reveals the patience, intention, and care little ones receives in the arms of a mother whose blood is not her blood, but whose bond is so deep—and so unconditional—that it creates the most perfect condition for a child to feel safe, successful, and deeply loved.
Carol talks about a few activities she dislikes doing in Mama Rose’s home, like cleaning her room and eating her vegetables. What things do you not always like to do? How do you know your family loves you, even when you’re asked to do these activities?
At the beginning of the story, we learn about Carol’s daily routine of Mama Rose helping her comb her hair and get her dressed. What things do your parents, caretakers, or family members do to help you each day? What can you do to show your gratitude for them?
Alice Faye Duncan is the author of several books, including the classic NAACP Award–nominated board book, Honey Baby Sugar Child, and Just Like a Mama. Ms. Duncan is a school librarian in Memphis, Tennessee, and conducts writing workshops for parents and educators. Her latest picture book, Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop, received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.
Charnelle Pinkney Barlow is a Georgia-based illustrator and surface designer. She has an MFA in illustration as a visual essay from the School of Visual Arts and a BFA in illustration from University of the Arts, and is the granddaughter of celebrated illustrator Jerry Pinkney.
For Mama and Pat
To my Mama Llama, Sandra Leigh Pinkney
Alice Faye Duncan and Charnelle Pinkney Barlow discuss Just Like a Mama on The Children’s Book Podcast
“The illustrations are bright and playful, conveying the deep warmth of affection between the two . . . A beautiful story of love and kinship, so needed for the many children living apart from their nuclear families.”