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Annotation: Eight-year-old Ernestine returns to visit relatives on the North Carolina farm where she was born.
Catalog Number: #4785931
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 1992
Edition Date: 1999
Illustrator: Pinkney, Jerry,
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-14-056547-7
ISBN 13: 978-0-14-056547-8
Dewey: E
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
Pinkney's glorious illustrations, filled with texture and color, enhance a nostalgic account of a young girl's visit to the old family home. Heartily welcomed by her uncle and aunt, Ernestine must win over her cousin Jack, who ridicules her for her ignorance of country ways. The simple story is evocative of a gentle past.
Kirkus Reviews
In her picture-book debut, the author—as Donald Crews did in Bigmama's (1991, ALA Notable)—re-creates the childhood experience of coming from a northern city to visit relatives in the rural South. Ernestine travels alone (``that ole train'' costs so much), and is heartily welcomed by her aunt and uncle but takes a little longer to feel comfortable with cousin Jack (he teases). Still, they make peace before it's time to go home. The author's warm narration is nicely enhanced with realistic dialogue and details; her husband's dappled, impressionistic art depicts a thriving, affectionate African-American farm family, beautifully capturing the subtleties of their interactions and Ernestine's growing confidence in her new surroundings. (Picture book. 5-9)"
Publishers Weekly
This semiautobiographical story follows an African-American girl from """"up North"""" as she visits her relatives in North Carolina; PW's starred review singled out the author's fine characterizations and pacing, and said the illustrations were """"some of Jerry Pinkney's finest work."""" Ages 3-8. (June)
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-- A long train ride takes Ernestine to visit her great-uncle and aunt in North Carolina, to sleep in the house where her mama grew up, and to visit her own birthplace. Cousin Jack teases her for her city ways, but she quickly learns about raising goats and canning peaches, and by the time she has been to church and visited her grandmama's grave, Ernestine looks forward to a future visit. This is more a reminiscence than a plotted story, warm with Southern summer and family affection, a vignette of times gone by and roots rediscovered. Jerry Pinkney's full-page watercolors complement this account of a young girl's journey several decades ago. Their sketchy, impressionistic style softens the rural poverty and strengthens the genuine family feelings that greet Ernestine. Like Donald Crews's Bigmama's (Greenwillow, 1991), Back Home draws on personal history and celebrates the lives of an African-American family. --Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Like Donald Crews' Bigmama's this celebrates an African American child's discovery of her family's rural roots. From the moment that Ernestine steps off the train in Lamberton, North Carolina, she's enfolded in the joyful embrace of her smiling aunt and uncle. Full-page sunlit paintings in watercolor and pencil set the warmly individualized portraits within a dappled summer landscape of earth tones and shimmering greens. Small pictures focus on farm implements or interior scenes, like the glowing still-life of peaches and paring knife. There's not much story here, but it is more than a simple mood piece. Even while she enjoys the flowers and the farm animals and the sweet scent of freshly baked biscuits, Ernestine yearns for her cousin Jack to like her. But he's put off by her fancy clothes and city ways. She changes into her mother's old overalls, but he still embarrasses her and treats her like a clumsy stranger. The turnaround comes one day when they drive to where Ernestine was BORn. She loves the abandoned farmhouse and swears that someday she'll fix it up. Then the book's one wordless double-spread painting captures the exquisite moment when Jack discovers that he likes her. Absorbed in the place, she doesn't see his startled look of admiration, and the story never spells it out. But the cousins are connected after that, friends now, both glad she's coming back next summer. (Reviewed June 15, 1992)
Word Count: 2,225
Reading Level: 3.5
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.5 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 6206 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q00835
Lexile: 550L
Guided Reading Level: O
Fountas & Pinnell: O

Even though eight-year-old Ernestine lives with her family up North, "back home" is Lumberton, North Carolina, the place where she was born and where her mama grew up. From the moment she steps off the train, Ernestine feels right at home in the lush, green countryside, working on the family farm, and spending time with her aunt, uncle, and cousins. This nostalgic, sweetly humorous visit home--based on Gloria Pinkney's own childhood memories--is perfect for intergenerational sharing.

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