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Deidre's Book Reviews

My Momma Likes to Say
True Believer
The Tale of Despereaux
The Giver
The First Part Last
A Single Shard
How Angel Peterson Got His Name
SHAKA: King of the Zulus
The Gold Cadillac
Freedman's Voice that Challenged A Nation
Messages in the Mailbox
Seymour's Stars
Author Study: Joyce Carol Thomas
My Favorite Joyce Carol Thomas Books
Suggested Response Activity
Review of Thomas's Hush Songs
Review of Thomas's Gingerbread Days
Ride a Purple Pelican
My Momma Likes to Say
My Man Blue
Beast Feast
The Stinky Cheese Man
Once Upon A Time
My Friend Rabbit
Caring for Your Pets
Two Bad Ants

Brennan-Nelson, Denise. 2003. MY MOMMA LIKES TO SAY. Ill by

              Jane Donovan. Chelsea: Sleeping Bear Press.

               ISBN: 1-58536-106-2


My Momma Likes To Say is a collection of playful rhymes.  The rhymes are idioms, proverbs, and clichés that we use in our everyday English language.  Expressions included in the book are “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” “The apple of my eye,” “time flies,” “reach for the stars,” “love makes the world go round,” “it’s raining cats and dogs,” “don’t let the bed bugs bite,” “cat got your tongue,” “if the shoe fits, wear it,” “eyes in the back of my head,” “hold your horses,” “laughter is the best medicine,” and “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”


The book lists all of these funny expressions inside short, fun poems.  In the introduction of the book, the author reminisces on how her momma would say some of these funny expressions to her when she was a little girl.  Her experiences have been the source of inspiration for writing this book.  Each expression has been incorporated into a poem.


They all include the repetitious phrase, “…my momma likes to say. I’m not sure what she means but I like it anyway.”  The poems are funny because they all appear to be from a child’s point of view.  It is interesting to read about what children are imagining – while they are listening to things that adults say.


The poem associated with the expression, “time flies when you’re having fun,” demonstrates how a young child may be imaging to fly with time.  To help create an image of time flying, the illustrator painted clocks in the sky with wings.  The children in the illustration are having fun at a birthday party when the flying clocks distracted them.


My Momma Likes To Say is not only serving a purpose for humor, the author has so cleverly added a few unique educational factors to her book.  The origins of each featured expression is footnoted, in smaller print, at the end of each poem.  In some of the poems, such as, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” and “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite,” there is very specific information about how the expressions became popular.  Also, the author uses the footnotes to create a higher level of thinking for the reader.


Questions like, “How long can you stretch your tongue?” “Which president’s portrait appears on the dollar bill?” “How alert are you?” are presented to keep the reader thinking and maybe even to inspire them to conduct their own research about the expressions.  The illustrations in the book add to the quality and help visualize the expressions.  Without the pictures, I doubt the book would give the same effect because the reader would be responsible for imagining the expression alone.


The book offers both an educational and humorous approach to poetry.  It is a book that promotes literacy and can be used to focus on a number of different topics when teaching children in grade school. 

Last updated: February 15, 2005

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