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Coming On Home Soon

Last updated Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrator: E. B. Lewis
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 0399237488
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2007

Synopsis: From School Library Journal: A beautifully written and illustrated story from the creators of The Other Side (Putnam, 2001), set during World War II. Ada Ruth waits for the return of her mother, who left home in search of a job. "They're hiring colored women in Chicago since all the men are off fighting in the war." Perfectly matched words and illustrations masterfully bring to life all the emotions that the girl is experiencing as she, her grandmother, and a stray kitten that has come to stay all try to comfort and console one another. As snow continues to fall, the large watercolor pages are filled with scenes of wistful longing–looking out the window, bringing in firewood, giving the kitten some milk, knitting, listening to news on the radio, and capturing the disappointment when the postman passes without stopping. Finally, a letter arrives and, with it, some much-needed money. The first line of the letter reads, "Tell Ada Ruth I'll be coming on home soon." Now, images convey a warm sense of anticipation. The final painting shows a woman with her back to readers approaching a house… home. A tender, heartfelt story that will touch readers.–

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  How do you think the girl on the cover feels? Happy? Sad? What do you think she’s looking at?
•  Look at what the girl is wearing. When do you think this story takes place? In the past? Present day? In the future? Where do you think this story takes place?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How does Ada Ruth feel when her mom has to go away?
•  Have you ever been away from your family for a long time? Do you call them or write letters while you are apart? How does this make you feel?
•  Have you ever missed your family? Do you think of happy memories when you miss your family? Does this help make you feel better?
•  Why do Ada Ruth and the kitten give Grandma a mean look? How do you think they felt when she called the kitten ugly? Do you think Grandma really meant it? Why or why not?
•  What is synonym for “railroad?” Have you ever been on a train?
•  What is a synonym for “postman?” What does he bring? How do Ada Ruth and her grandma feel when he doesn’t come? How do they feel when he brings them a letter?
•  Is this a happy ending or a sad ending? Why?

Craft ideas:
•  Write a letter to someone you are missing. Make an envelope out of construction paper and decorate it.
•  Make snowflakes. Fold a sheet of construction paper and cut out shapes.
•  Create a train and railroad scene. Draw and cut out a train. On a sheet of construction paper, draw a track, trees, and other things you might find next to a railroad. Cut a slit through the track, making sure to leave a bit on each end (we don't want the paper to fall apart). Then attach a popsicle stick to your train. Slide the popsicle stick into the slit in the track and move your train along the track. The train should "stand up."

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!