"Every Saturday morning, the young narrator pedals his bike through town, passing familiar landmarks like the bank and the gas station, until he reaches his grandmother's house. The two share a special day talking, doing chores, and finally baking and feasting on Mammaw's special teacakes. Drawing on his childhood in Heflin, AL, the author splendidly re-creates these nostalgic scenes, carefully bringing the memories to life by describing the sunny kitchen, the crunch of gravel under bicycle wheels, and the sweet aroma of the cakes. The brilliant watercolor paintings glow with light and idyllically capture the world of yesterday. Older readers may enjoy sharing this book with their grandparents, and teachers might incorporate it into lessons about writing descriptive memoirs."
--Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA; copyright 2004 Reed Business Information--School Library Journal
"A young boy recalls the Saturdays he would bike to visit his Mammaw. In language rich with the sounds, smells, and tastes of days gone by, the story takes us down the road, through the town to his grandmother's hug of welcome. He cuts the lawn while she tends the garden. Then they have some lunch, and it's time for 'something sweet to eat.' With his help, she makes the dough and bakes the teacakes he enjoys so much. These vivid memories he 'won't ever forget.' The sentimental tale gets additional emotional strength from the large watercolor scenes which at times resemble color photographs. The pictures describe the idyllic small town with friendly folks, flower-bordered roads, and Mammaw's house and garden. The furnishings are right out of the mid-twentieth century. The sequence of images tells a story rich in the joy of a boyhood and the valuing of the special relationship between the generations. And the recipe for those delicious-looking teacakes is available on line."
--Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz, Children's Literature,
"Laminack (The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins)
takes a sweet trip down memory lane in this ode to his grandmother... Set in Alabama in 1964, the slice-of-life story reveals the emotional connections forged by a boy's weekly bike trips to visit his grandmother 'Mammaw.' They share meals, time on the porch swing, yard work and making teacakes (the recipe for which is on the publisher's Web site). Tactile descriptions help engage readers ('[The dough] was smooth and pale yellow and smelled like fresh cotton candy at the county fair')...Soentpiet (My Brother Martin)
creates an appealingly wholesome, Mayberry-esque vision of the town, with flower-filled yards, smiling gas station attendants and Mammaw's gleaming red and white kitchen. A high-intensity light seems to shine on his wide-ranging palette of watercolors, giving a souped-up, faintly surreal glow to these scenes of loving intergenerational ties..."
"Readers will have a hard time resisting this cover: a grinning boy of nine or ten is lord of the pile of treats in front of him: teacakes he bakes with his grandmother as the culmination of their Saturday visits. Also on the weekly agenda: mowing Mawmaw's lawn and enjoying sandwiches crafted with her just-picked tomatoes. Set in 1964 in Heflin, Alabama, there's little tension in this vignette--riding his bike there safely through the rural countryside is the hardest part of the boy's day. The impeccably rendered paintings illustrate with astonishing historical accuracy the slightly long text and capture the details of the time: gasoline pumps and automobiles in the service station, the boy's bicycle, and kitchen furnishings that suggest an even earlier time. The author crafted this as a tribute to a childhood tradition with his grandmother, to whom the book is dedicated; while not all of us had his childhood, filled with sunshine and smiles, this nostalgic look back offers up the childhood many of us wish we'd had."