Praline Lady written by Kirstie Myvett and illustrated by Kameko Madere, published by Pelican Publishing.
This captivating story takes us back to 19th-century New Orleans. As if gently by the hand, Author Kirstie Myvett strolls us through the streets of this history-rich city while introducing us to the life and times of Praline Lady. This main character represents the many Black entrepreneurs of this time period.
Myvett does a wonderful job evoking the aromas, sights, and sounds of this bustling city. From the first page, we can practically smell the warmth of the fresh pralines — made of nuts, sugar, butter, and milk. Praline Lady will spend her day walking from one street to the next selling her pralines to very eager customers. As readers, we easily turn from one street onto the next, from one spread to the next, thanks to artist Kameko Madere's delicate watercolor images. As such, the reader has the privilege of discovering the delicacies of the city, through the market, past the cafés, and to the docks.
As charming as it all appears, the lives of praline ladies and other newly, or soon-to-be, freed Black women were far from easy. The days started early and ended late, with hardly a moment to sit. But the dreams of these entrepreneurs, from buying their freedom to opening their own shops, were stronger than the challenges they faced. Their determination is extraordinary and is a wonderful example of overcoming hardships. Stories such as Praline Lady offer children a chance to learn about strong, brave women and be inspired by them.
Think about the people who offer something special or necessary in your community — the driver of an ice cream truck, the Meals on Wheels workers, the mail carrier, the garbage collectors, or... anyone else that comes to mind.
Imagine spending a day with one of them. What would that be like? What would you see? What would you hear? What would you smell? Etc.
Draw a map of your neighborhood or whole town. Trace the route that the person you chose travels each day. Draw or write a story about that person's day from the moment they get up until they return home.
Or, imagine being that person! Dress up in clothes they may wear and show someone else how to do the job.