In this sequel to "Amazing Grace", Grace longs for the kind of family she reads about in books, but she barely remembers her own father who left home when she was small. Then he invites her to visit him and his new family in Africa, and Grace soon realizes that even in divided families, love can prove boundless. Watercolor illustrations.
"Ages 4-8. In the first picture book about Grace, Amazing Grace (1991), the wonderful upbeat story is grounded in reality: the determined black girl's dream comes true, and she gets to play the part of Peter Pan in the school play because she's talented and imaginative, and because she practices and practices. Times are tough, people are prejudiced, but she makes it, with the loving support of her hardworking single-parent mother and grandmother. In this sequel another dream comes true, and this time, it's not nearly as convincing. It turns out her absent father has really loved her all the time. What's more, he's a rich man in Africa, and he sends plane tickets for her and her grandmother to come and visit with his new wife and children. When they get to The Gambia, it's like a fairy tale in real life, far beyond the fantasy of any child longing for a father. Grace sulks for a while (she tells herself all the stepmother stories, from Hansel and Gretel to Cinderella), but everyone loves everyone, and soon there's not a sad or frowning face anywhere. Of course it's great to see Africa without the usual primitive and exotic stereotypes, and kids will enjoy finding the cruel fairy-tale stepparent transformed. The text on the jacket's back flap goes on and on about the book's "authenticity," reassuring us that the British author and illustrator traveled to The Gambia and took photographs and made sure every single local detail was accurate. That's all very well and good, but unfortunately, it's the story that doesn't ring true. Still, the paintings are glorious, the landscapes filled with light and color, the people strongly individualized, whether Grace is shopping for traditional fabrics, playing with her stepbrother, looking at crocodiles with her loving father, or talking on the telephone with the mother she misses badly. Hazel Rochman"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Irrepressible, plucky Grace charmed a multitude of readers when she debuted in Amazing Grace, defying the narrow-mindedness of her classmates to land the plum role of Peter Plan in the school play. In this more message-oriented sequel, Grace is older (her gap-toothed grin all filled in), but still brimming with stories and dreams. Here she must overcome her own preconceptions and fears to accept and find acceptance with her divorced and remarried father's ``other'' family in Africa. Traveling to The Gambia with her grandmother, Grace frets about the horrible stepmothers found in fairy tales and worries that her hosts won't need or love her (``They make a storybook family without me''). Unlike the first book, where the spunkiness of the heroine was the heart of the story, this tale revolves around the lesson that ``families are what you make them.'' Hoffman has once again imbued her story with an abundance of familial understanding. Binch's brilliant watercolors capture the colorful clothing and scenery of the African village; her snapshot-like portraits seem to radiate light. Despite the more predictable plot line, this volume is as assured and as uplifting as its predecessor. Ages 4-8. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved