Mama's Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat | SLJ Audio Review

redstarDanticat, Edwidge. Mama’s Nightingale. 1 CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2015. $15.75. ISBN 9781501911156. digital download.Mama's Nightingale

PreS-Gr 2 –Danticat’s first book for children is the bittersweet story, bookended by a lilting guitar and accordion waltz, of a family fractured by United States immigration law. For three months, Saya and her father have trudged through their days, doing what they can to stay connected with Saya’s mother, an undocumented immigrant—including weekly visits to the detention center where she’s being kept. By night, Papa writes letter after letter, attempting to get the paperwork necessary for Mama to be released from the ironically named Sunshine Correctional. To ease the heartache of their separation, Mama records Haitian folklore bedtime tales for Saya. When Saya decides to tell her family’s story, its publicity finally sparks progress toward reuniting their family. The text is gently read by seasoned Robin Miles, who adopts a mild Haitian Creole accent and fluidly rolls the sprinkling of Creole words off her tongue. In an author’s note also read by Miles, Danticat briefly describes her own childhood separation from her parents, also owing to immigration laws, and reminds listeners that many, many families today are separated by imprisonment and deportation. VERDICT This poignant offering brings to light for young children some of the sad realities of the immigrant experience in America. For all collections. [“A first purchase, especially in communities with a large immigrant population”: SLJ 9/15 starred review of the Dial book.]–Jennifer Verbrugge, Minnesota Department of Education, State Library Services, Roseville, MN

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2016 issue.

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