I only just found out that the author and illustrator of one of my favorite books ever, A Chair for My Mother, passed away in October.
Reading some obituaries for Vera B. Williams, I found out that the story is based in part on something that happened in her own family.
A Chair for My Mother came out in the early eighties, when I was a preschooler. I think part of what made a big impression on me was the bright, colorful illustrations (I remember my mother pointing out the Caldecott Honor medal on the cover and telling me that meant it had won an award for especially beautiful pictures).
I remember the idea of a house fire made a big impression on me. When I was explaining where my imaginary friend had come from, I told my parents he was at our house because there had been a fire at his house.
I was excited when I found out there was a second story about Rosa, Something Special for Me. I didn’t find out about many of her other books until I became a librarian, but I enjoyed the episode of Reading Rainbow that featured Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe.
“More More More” Said the Baby is a favorite that I learned about as an adult. We own it in both English and Spanish. It’s a picture book that shows three babies being cuddly with their grown-ups. This title also won a Caldecott honor.
Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart is a book that has received lots of praise as a sensitive depiction of children coping with having a parent in jail. This, too, appears to have been based on the author’s own experiences.
Scooter takes us out of the picture book section and into the chapter books, where a girl is making friends in a new neighborhood. Each chapter features an acrostic poem and memorable characters.
These are just a couple of examples of Vera B. Williams’ work. I encourage you to check them out!