Thomas, Joyce Carol.
1995. GINGERBREAD DAYS. Ill. by Floyd
Cooper. New York:Joanna Cotler Books. ISBN: 0-06-023469-5
is a book containing twelve poems about the celebration of seasons and family. Each poem is based on a young boy and the time he spends with his family. There is a poem for each month of the year. In “A Gingered
January,” the boy’s Grandma makes a gingerbread boy, just like the young boy.
The “February Hero” is an example of how a young boy may feel about his father, as his hero.
The poem for March,
“The March King,” shows the young boy’s wild imagination, as he envisions himself as royalty. For the month of April, the poem exemplifies the tender love that a mother gives her child when he is under
the weather. “May Beginnings” is a poem describing the discovery
and love for the season of spring. The book ends with “December’s
Song,” glorifying the callused hands of his hard working father, “Rough with knowing how to keep a family from
freezing how to keep a young mind growing.”
by Floyd Cooper are very colorful, showing a lot of expression in the faces of the characters featured. For such a meaningful collection of poetry, the illustrations are perfect. For example, the illustration
for the poem, “April Medicine,” shows the young boy’s mother carefully touching the boy’s head to
check for a fever.
The pictures beautifully
identify the concern and affection that he mother has for her child. Each picture
and poem is so simple, yet so full of emotion. "My mother's hands already know
the temperature of my head the weather of my heart how do they know to be cool when I'm hot and warm when I'm not?"
Gingerbread Days celebrates life, family love, individuality, and African American identity. In the poem for October, “October Love,” each member of the family is
described doing something to help the family prepare for the start of their day. “We
drink love for breakfast.”
The book helps children of all ages learn about what it means to be a part
of a family. One of the most influential parts of the book is in the last poem,
“December’s Song.” “It’s December and of all the
gifts December brings I’ll always remember that people are more important than things.”
When reading this book of poems, it is important to understand the background of the
poet, who is African American. The author, Joyce Carol Thomas, writes from her
own childhood experiences and discusses what life has been like for her as an African American child. The poems inside Gingerbread
Days are prime examples of how the African American family treats its members.
Gingerbread Days is similiar to Hush Songs,
in the way that it focuses on African American family relationships. Both collections of poems consist of short,
emotional verses that children and adults can relate to. As a sequel to Broomwheat Tea, her book, Gingerbread
Days is based on home, family and African American experiences.