Published May 12, 2021

Every year, the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress features a book from each of the affiliate Centers for the Book, creating an annual list of Great Reads. Each book is selected by one of the Center for the Book affiliates and represents an aspect of their local literary culture, either addressing a topic of regional interest, taking place in the area, or written or illustrated by someone from or currently living there.

This year, the Virginia Center for the Book has selected Your Mama by NoNieqa Ramos as the 2021 Great Reads selection for the Commonwealth!

About the book:

A sweet twist on the age-old “yo mama” joke, celebrating fierce moms everywhere with playful lyricism and gorgeous illustrations.

Yo’ mama so sweet, she could be a bakery. She dresses so fine, she could have a clothing line. And, even when you mess up, she’s so forgiving, she lets you keep on living.

Heartwarming and richly imagined, Your Mama twists an old joke into a point of pride that honors the love, hard work, and dedication of mamas everywhere.

Get creative with the Your Mama activity guide from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, featuring poetry prompts, coloring pages, glossary and pronunciation guide, and much more!

Watch Kwame Alexander introduce Your Mama by NoNieqa Ramos:

In a glowing tribute to mothers, here is one hip parent who spends quality time with her child. Illustrated banners throughout the tale begin with the words “Your Mama” and continue with a description which is pictured on the pages, such as, “Your Mama So Sweet,” “Your Mama So Strong,” and “Your Mama So Funny.” The rhythmic text is lively while vibrant, detailed illustrations reveal the many activities mother and daughter share, such as baking, road trips, birthday parties, and singing along with the car radio. “She got friends at work, at church, around the ‘hood. Life is good.” English text with a smattering of Spanish words fit with the illustrations of a brown-skinned Latinx mother and young daughter. This mama brings verve to everything she does, whether sewing costumes for her child, attending Parents’ Night at school dressed in a flowing orange dress, or taking her girl to the library. With long, wavy black hair; large gold hoop earrings; and heeled knee-high boots decorated with red roses; this mama has as much energy as her child. This contemporary, high-spirited salute to motherhood is a warm and welcoming valentine to family and love.”School Library Journal, starred review

“This snappy tribute celebrates the fierce awesomeness of sweet, strong, funny, woke, brainiac mamas. Using rhythmic stanzas that swing, a brown-skinned little girl begins each double-page spread with a “your mama”observation… The bright, vibrant illustrations, with text in a playful retro-tattoo style, pop off the pages, showing the girl and her mother in all sorts of circumstances: going to the library, to vote, on a picnic, and a road trip, and even just the two of them in their apartment. There are multiple references to Spanish food (“She’s the cinnamon to your tembleque, the tres leches to your cake“)including some comida deliciosa at an extended family gathering. Near the end, readers are told they’ll never understand how much their mama loves them, and that they’re their mama’s hope, prayer, push, pull, and miracle. By this point, kids will be all over that message and will be more than happy to give mamas everywhere an appropriate send-off: “So let’s give her two snaps, a circle, and a twist. Mad dap, a hug, and a kiss.” This joyous celebration makes a perfect read-aloud for Mother’s Day—and every day.”—Booklist, starred review

“Using a vibrant tattoo motif, colorful, joy-infused artwork, and playful, melodic words, Ramos and Alcántara’s winning picture book celebrates motherhood at its most inspirational. A child and a mother—both with brown skin, long, wavy black hair, and long, bold limbs—spend their days baking and playing, picnicking and protesting, going to the library and taking road trips. It starts with a honeyed bang: “Your Mama So Sweet, She Could Be a Bakery,” spelled out on a ribbon that could adorn a sailor’s arm as narration in regular type expands on this. Each subsequent double-page spread echoes these words (“Your Mama…”), highlighting how this mom’s “so strong,” “so forgiving,” and “so woke.” Notably, readers see a mom that stands alone, strong and defiant, as she walks into her child’s Parent Night at school and strolls through a neighborhood full of friends and passersby. Ramos conjures jubilant scene after scene with deft language and sprinkles of Spanish, and this tale’s more sublime moments (“Your Mama a Brainiac—mo’ betta than any app”) simply shine. Similarly, Alcántara’s art represents motherhood as a model of ideals and mind spun for modern times, both indebted to and limited by the specific type of mother of color depicted here. Overall, it’s a celebration that’s invaluable and needed.“—Kirkus, starred review

Your Mama is an exuberant ode to supermoms everywhere… Alcántara’s illustrations are as lively as Ramos’ text… Humor and happiness fill every page… Your Mama hits the perfect note of sweetness.”—BookPage 

“Ramos reconfigures a well-known joke format into an uplifting, rhythmic exultation of motherhood in this bouncy debut… Parents and children alike will appreciate this thoroughly contemporary portrait of familial love.”—Publishers Weekly  

About the author:

NoNieqa Ramos is an educator who wrote The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection and an In the Margins Award Top Ten pick. Her debut picture book, Your Mama, earned three starred reviews. She is a proud member of Las Musas Book collective, the Soaring 20s debut group, and PB Debut Troupe 21. She lives in Virginia with her family. Learn more at NonieqaRamos.com.

About the illustrator:

Jacqueline Alcántara is a freelance illustrator and artist who spends her days drawing, writing and globe-trotting with her dog, Possum. She is particularly excited about promoting inclusiveness and diversity in children’s literature and the illustration field in general. Her debut picture book, The Field, written by Baptiste Paul, was named a Best Book of 2018 by School Library Journal, Horn Book, Kirkus Reviews, and Shelf Awareness. Freedom Soup, written by Tami Charles, has been named a Kids IndieNext Pick, a Kirkus Best Book of 2019, and has received four starred reviews. She lives in Chicago, Illinois. Learn more at JacquelineAlcantara.com.

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