In this post, we feature acclaimed artist Laura James, whose illustrations have appeared in notable titles, such as Anna Carries Water, written by Olive Senior. You can hear her speak about her new picture book, My Mother Was a Nanny, which she both wrote and illustrated, and try her “invitation to imagine” activity. You’ll also find other resources to explore. Thanks for joining us, and let us know what you think in the comments below!
- Written and illustrated by Laura James
- Published by Groundwood Books, an imprint of House of Anansi Press
- Release date: September 5, 2023
In this vibrant picture book, a young girl longs for her mother’s attention, but Mummy is always busy helping everyone else and their children. Moving through each day of the week, the young narrator recalls her mother’s many roles as nanny, friend, baker, maker, teacher, cleaner, sister, and more. The young girl is part of the swirl of activity, helping where she can. She plays with the baby her mother looks after. She tags along on trips to the Caribbean greengrocer in their Brooklyn neighborhood. She eavesdrops on her mother’s conversations, only to be shooed away. She even accompanies her mother to an office-cleaning job on Saturdays. Mummy seldom has a moment to spare. But looking back on a special surprise one Easter Sunday, the narrator realizes that her mother was always thinking about her own children, in spite of the demands of her domestic work and the central role she played in her community. Based on Laura James’ childhood in Brooklyn and accompanied by her vibrant illustrations, this picture book is a warm view of a Caribbean American family and a moving reflection of race, labor, and community.
Listen to Laura James talking with TeachingBooks about creating My Mother Was a Nanny. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.
- Listen to Laura James pronounce her name.
- Sample the e-book of My Mother Was a Nanny on OverDrive.
- Explore TeachingBooks’ collection of activities and resources for My Mother Was a Nanny.
Invitation to Imagine
TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator on our Virtual Book Tour to share a writing prompt, a drawing exercise, or just an interesting question to spark curiosity and creativity. Enjoy the following activity contributed by Laura James.
Imagination Activity with Laura James
Think of somebody in your life (a woman?) and list three to five things that she is. Think of what she does for work and for fun, who her loved ones are, and who depends on her. Make a card for her so that she knows that somebody appreciates all the hard work that she does.
Finish This Sentence . . . with Laura James
As part of our Virtual Book Tour, TeachingBooks asks authors and illustrators to complete short sentence prompts. Enjoy Laura James’s response.
“While working on this latest book, I was surprised to discover that…”
While working on this latest project, I was surprised to discover that I am just like my mother! I like to do many different things, and I’m involved in a lot of different projects that pull me from one thing to the next!
To wrap up this Virtual Book Tour, we thank Laura James for signing a book for all of us.
More Connections to Laura James and My Mother Was a Nanny
- Discover books like My Mother Was a Nanny on TeachingBooks.
- Groundwood’s page about My Mother Was a Nanny, written and illustrated by Laura James.
- Buy My Mother Was a Nanny, written and illustrated by Laura James.
All text and images are courtesy of Laura James and Groundwood Books and may not be used without expressed written consent.