Review of Yaya and the Sea

Yaya and the Sea Yaya and the Sea
by Karen Good Marable; illus. by Tonya Engel
Primary    Millner/Simon    40 pp.
3/24    9781534462014    $18.99
e-book ed.  9781534462021    $10.99

On the first day of spring, Yaya and her mother get up before the sun to go to the sea. Mommy tells Yaya to “pick out the shiniest dimes. We are going to take them to Mama Ocean and make a wish.” Three of Mommy’s friends accompany them, and after a long ride on the subway, they are finally at the beach. The mother and her friends have white clothes and towels, and each has special gifts for Mama Ocean. The women walk into the ocean and share their gifts with her before quickly dressing and heading back to the city without looking back. The picture book conveys the joy of welcoming spring and of rituals that African Americans have adopted and adapted from their ancestors. Engel’s brightly colored paintings evoke the love, joy, and excitement that surround the moment. Marable’s straightforward storytelling captures the voice and perspective of a young child. An author’s note shares that the book is based on a real trip the author and her friends made to perform a ritual for Mama Ocean.

Pubissue-From the March/April 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholl Denice Montgomery

Nicholl Denice Montgomery is currently working on a PhD at Boston College in the curriculum and instruction department. Previously, she worked as an English teacher with Boston Public Schools.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.