Jerdine Nolen
In My Momma's Kitchen
Colin Bootman, illustrator
HarperCollins, 1999
book covers
books in alphabetical order
  In My Momma's Kitchen


From Talking Pots Day, when the aunts all gather to make the biggest pot of soup in town, to serenades and stories late at night, when the rest of the world is asleep, "seems like everything good that happens in my house happens in my momma's kitchen." A celebration of African-American life and the bonds that unite all families, generation after generation.

In My Momma’s Kitchen is a joyous celebration of African American families—and mommas— everywhere.


“‘Seems like everything good that happens in my house happens in my momma's kitchen,’ begins the young narrator of this cozy picture–book collection of vignettes set, appropriately, in the kitchen. There the girl's older sister, Nadene, announces she's won a scholarship to college; her aunts gather to cook and chat on ‘Talking Pots Day’; and Daddy sings ‘La Cucaracha’ and does the cha-cha as he makes corn pudding. Employing her talent for comfortably paced storytelling and evocative description, Nolen (Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm) uses one– to three–page scenarios to evoke the rhythms and rituals of a close-knit, dynamic African–American family. Whether describing ‘Gran Lee,’ the old hand-me-down stove Momma would never part with, or a curious pet cat, Nolen's subtle details add color and depth to the proceedings. Bootman's (Oh, No, Toto!) softly lit, realistic oil portraits match the text's warm mood, capturing many tender moments between the narrator and her relatives. Art and text work together to transport readers to a place where abundant love and sweet memories are staples of daily fare.” (Publishers Weekly)

“‘Seems like everything good that happens in my house happens in my momma's kitchen.’ So begins the narrator of this book, an unnamed girl. Following are eight short vignettes that detail the various activities that take place in the heart of this loving African-American family's home. As Momma and her sisters gather to make the biggest pot of soup in town, Great-aunt Caroline celebrates her 95th birthday, and the whole family ends up in the kitchen raiding the refrigerator and listening to Daddy's stories. An especially pleasing tale depicts the father's autumn ritual of taking over the kitchen to make corn pudding. The narrator says that, ‘Watching Daddy make the corn pudding is a lot better than actually eating it’ but when he ‘presents it at the dinner table wearing that smile of his and humming ‘Glory Hallelujah,’ having to eat it is worth it.’ Bootman's full-page illustrations, done in rich oil paints and framed against a white backdrop, nicely reflect the warmth that radiates from the stories. While the book has no high drama or overt humor, those who read it will share this family's feeling of contentment and quiet satisfaction.” (Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI, School Library Journal)

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