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3.98  ·  Rating details ·  372 ratings  ·  79 reviews
Donald Crews, the Caldecott Honor artist and award-winning creator of Freight Train, Truck, and many other classic picture books for young children, writes of his own childhood experiences visiting his grandparents in Florida.

Four African American children travel with their mother, and when the train arrives in Cottondale, Florida, the summer at Bigmama's house begins! Don
Paperback, 40 pages
Published January 21st 1998 by Greenwillow Books (first published 1991)
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May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adults will probably enjoy this one more than children as Crews remembers his wonderful summer days spent at his grandmother's house. You can almost hear the cicadas buzz as he and his siblings explore, go fishing, and stargazing.

This brought back magical memories of my own youth when my mantra was eat and play, do it again the next day.
Feb 17, 2018 marked it as t  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018t
I first came across this on a Facebook post about Black History Month. T has two of the author's other books, Truck and School Bus, and he liked this one too!

V's Review

Young Donald Crews visits his grandparents and takes comfort in the constancy of family.

Readers who live far from grandparents and extended family may identify with the author as he describes his trip to visit his grandmother. Crews emphasizes how happy he and his siblings are to visit and see that everything stays the same from y
Courtney Dyer
A departure from Crews’ typical writing style comes a nostalgic, evocative story about another summer’s visit to bigmama’s house told from the perspective of a child. Trading in his vibrant illustrations for a more realistic style, Crews uses watercolor and gouache paints in rich earth tones paired with soft lines to bring this memorable childhood experience to life.

“Every summer we went to see her- Mama, my sisters, my brother, and me.” They rode the train for 3 days to Cottondale, Florida to v
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
I totally disagree with the rating I just gave Bigmama's. Before people start to think that I have some sort of personality disorder, let me explain. I thought Bigmama's was a great book. It was about the times that Donald Crews spent on his grandparents Florida farm when he and his siblings were kids. The story was told in spare, uncomplicated language, but it was clear that Crews holds these memories close to his heart.

My niece, however, wasn't overly impressed with this book, and my six year
Rachael LaRochelle
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed Big Mama's. It is about a family who takes a trip to their grandparent’s house every summer. They take a three day train ride to Cottondale, where their grandparents live. They are picked up by their Uncle Slank, who takes them out to Big Mama’s farm. Big Mama’s farm never changes. They spend the summer playing with their cousins and friend the farm. At night, all the relatives have dinner together and enjoy gazing up at the million stars in the sky.
It reminded me of going to my Grandp
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Bigmama's is a story about the memories of Donald Crews going with his family to visit his grandparents in Florida. The children call the Grandparents Bigmama and Bigpapa and they lived on a rural farm with a pond. It is easy to relate to the story for most children because they visit grandparents and although the visits may differ the relationships within the family are similar and give the children a feeling of belonging to the family. The children in my preschool room love Bigmama's and love ...more
Feb 03, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
This book would be good for teaching about setting. In fact, that's pretty much all that the book is about. It talks about Bigmama's house and describes it inside and out. Nothing really happens other than they travel to her house, walk around it and have dinner. I found it boring since there's no problem (and thus no climax or solution), but my mother found it fun because you can see that the children are enjoying the country life style.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Bigmama's is a book written by Donald Crew. As the children take a three day train trip to the country to visit their grandparents for the summer, they are united with their families and cousins and are are reminded of how things at grandma's house never change. The is a great book for preschoolers up through age 8. A great book for any young children to reflect upon their summer days.
Goshen PL Childrens
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: staff-reads-2017
Donald Crews recalls visiting his grandmother (Bibmama) and grandfather (Bigpapa) as a child. After a three day train trip, his family arrives. The kids take off their shoes and socks; they won't need them much in the next few weeks. He describes all the wonderful, unchanging, old fashioned things at Bigmama's - kerosene lamps, a treadle sewing machine, the well, water pump, and chicken house. And the outhouse - okay now, but scary in the dark. The house, the porches, and the stability of knowin ...more
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cathy by: Author Biographies week in the library
Four African American children travel with their mother, and when the train arrives in Cottondale, Florida, the summer at Bigmama's house begins! Donald Crews brilliantly evokes the sights, sounds, and emotions of a memorable childhood experience. Beautifully and richly illustrated, this is a wonderful choice for family reading and classroom sharing.

Donald Crews, the Caldecott Honor artist and award-winning creator of many classic picture books for young children, writes of his own childhood ex
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tribute to the trips "back home" many black families took, and still take, every summer, Bigmama's by Donald Crews had me knee-deep in nostalgia for days spent running after my cousins and nights sleeping on a pallet on the floor in my Granna's living room, surrounded by the same. The artwork is dated (kerosene lamps, a wind-up record player), but the feeling evoked by the storytelling is not - I still fondly remember heading to my grandparents' to play outside until it was time to come inside ...more
Sam Dawson
Bigmama's was a book about children visiting their family for the summer. The visit revolves around playing with the animals, being outside, and the family being together. It's a good book to read to children to show them that electronics aren't everything and that fun is possible without them.
Hannah Klumb
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: diversity
Such a well written and illustrated book that a lot of people can relate to.
Marilyn Showalter
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Contemporary Realistic
K-2nd grade reading level
This book took me back to when I went to my grandma and grandpa’s house growing up, although they did many different things in the book from what I did. I thought this was a good story and picture book. While I was reading it, I thought it would be a good book to have for a cultural diversity talk.
Elizabeth Daly
Title: Bigmama’s
Author: Donald Crews
Illustrator (if separate from author): Donald Crews
Genre: K-2 biography
Theme(s): summer, family, traveling
Opening line/sentence: “Did you see her?”

Brief Book Summary: Bigmama’s is the story of how Donald Crews, the author, spent his childhood summers traveling with his family by train to stay with his grandma or “bigmama” at her house in Cottondale, Florida. Every year when Donald Crews and his family would stay with his bigmama, everything was always exactly
Title: Bigmama’s
Author: Donald Crews
Genre: Biography K-2
Theme(s): Family, love, reunion,
Opening line/sentence: “Did you see her?”

Brief Book Summary: Bigmama is mama’s mama. Everyone in the family travels together for 3 days and 2 nights on the train to visit bigmama and bigpapa. The children reminisce as they revisit each familiar room in the house as well as the back porch and nearby pond. The family finally reunites for the big dinner.

Professional Recommendation/Review #1:
Dr. Beverly Kobrin
Nicole Disilvestro
Nov 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
1. This is a contemporary picture book.
2. This is about a child visiting their Grandmother house. It is about all the different things in the Grandma’s house and all fun things that there are to do at the house and all the things that make it unique.
3. (A) I think this is a very accurate contemporary picture book. It has very accurate character because it has characters that a child could relate to. A lot of children spend time with their grandparents and aunts and uncles. The pictures were ful
This wasn't a book I grew up with, published in 1991, but Donald Crews' memoir of visiting his grandmother's farm struck a personal note for me.

The story begins with his family taking the train from the city to the farm was something I had done in my childhood. Well, my grandma didn't have a farm, but she lived in Iowa and I visited a farm while I was there. More so than that, I was very much taken by the grandmother's home. His depiction of her house and her old-timey possessions rang true of
Robert Owens
This book was purchased for the classroom library through CLI. There
it has sat for two years. I do not recall any students reading it.

We changed our curriculum mightily this year. As I searched for some
materials for a lesson the other day, I saw a reference to this book.
I developed the lesson around it and read this to the students.

The book is rich with description. Crews recalls vividly his
grandmother's (BigMama) house that he vacationed at as a boy. Every
year was exactly the same as he was wis
Jonathan Bodine
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bigmama’s is a brief autobiography depicting author Donald Crew’s experience visiting his grandparent’s farm every summer. There is nothing but delightful childhood memories in this book. It emphasizes elements of childhood such as family, exploration, play, freedom, and summer. This book is extremely straightforward and that works to its favor. Reading a biography, I want to the experience, no editorializing is necessary. There is no need to pretty up the past. Crews provides the full emersion ...more
Megan Willis
Oct 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Donald Crews writes and illustrates a vivid memoir of his own childhood summers at his grandparents' house in Cottondale. The detailed illustrations really help to capture his descriptions about his time on the farm and how much fun he and his family had together. I can relate to this story, and I believe that many children can. We all have memories of our grandparents' homes and how we explored and played there. My favorite part was at the beginning when Donald and his family were taking the tr ...more
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is Donald Crew's recalling of his childhood summers in Florida during the Jim Crow era when "colored" still were routed into separate rail cars, restrooms and areas of restaurants and movie theaters. But none of that era darkens the brightness of this story at the family farm with grandparents, uncles and aunts and cousins. These are the kinds of memories children deserve to grow up with and Crews' illustrations bring those to life for us and awaken or prompt memories for us readers too. Sp ...more
Jennifer Velez
This is a very nice book that I think a lot of the student's are going to be able to relate to because of the story. This book is about a little boy's family who goes every summer to his Grandma's house. He is very detailed in all his descriptions of how we got there. He is not only descriptive about how he got there, but also when it comes to describing his Grandma's house and the places surrounding. He describes using all his senses and as you read the book you can picture how it looked in you ...more
Shannon Stinnette
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
I think this book is a beautiful read aloud. Students will be engaged by the use of colorful illustrations as well as descriptive text. This story would not be useful to teach story elements involving plot with a problem and solution. This story is the recollection of the character's youth, spending summers at his grandmother's house in the south. It is told with rich detail and tells of this character's fondest memories of youth. This story could be used in conjunction with a writing lesson tea ...more
Jul 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Donald Crews’ ‘Big Mama’s’ is an autobiographical piece of nostalgia about his childhood summers spent visiting his grandparents. The simple yet beautiful illustrations that accompany each page evoke emotions ranging from the thrill of seeing loved ones one rarely sees, to the expectations that usually complements such exciting journeys, to the wonder of an unknown future.

The text is true-to-life and at an intermediate level, with sentences ranging from 5-10 words, and without too much complica
Sherry Thornberry
This was a great story about going to grandmas house. It made me remember going to my grandmas as a child. But it was the opposite. I lived in the country but would spent a little time in town with my grandma in the summertime. I loved setting on her front porch and watching cars go by. We didn't get to do that at home. We lived way up on a hill off the road. Our road was gravel anyway and seldom traveled. My mom and dad still live in that house. Of course, the road has been paved and housed hav ...more
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, children
This is a beautiful picture book about family, but it isn't for every reader and is a departure from Crews' other work. His vivid artwork is still on display, but this is a reflective and semi-autobiographical piece about the ties that bind us and the power memory has to keep those feelings bright in our minds. Crews shares a story of visiting Bigmama, his grandmother's home, using rich detail and lavish images that stir the heart. For those who have a place like Bigmama's in their memory, this ...more
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Donald Crews, an African-American author, provides an authentic view of life in the children’s book Bigmama’s. He recalls a summer in Cottondale with Grandma Bigmama, “Not that she was big, but she was Mama’s Mama.” He recalls the kerosene lamps, the farm, looking for eggs, seeing chickens, drinking at the pump, hugs and kisses from Bigmama and Bigpapa, and other exciting things. It’s a step back from the technologically advanced world and an authentic portrayal of life in an African-American fa ...more
Children's Literature Project
Oct 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography, rosa
Grade Level Equivalent: 2.2

Summary: Donald Crews' takes his readers back to a childhood summer spent at Bigmama's house in Florida. The author presents all the sensory details from his memories, and the colorful pictures enable the reader to visualize this beloved summer experience.

Lesson Integration: This book has beautiful illustrations that tell the story of the author's life as much as the text. Students can be encouraged to make illustrations about the important events in their lives that
Feb 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-75-stars
3.75 stars I nice book about the summer a Bigmama's. It is cute. The book explains that Bigmama and Bigpapa are what they call their Grandma and Grandpa..It even says "It isn't because she is big it is that she is mama's mama." It is so cute. It is fun to see the kids having a fun barefoot carefree summer. I love the details of the things around Bigmama's house that the kids look for each year.

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Donald Crews (born August 30, 1938) is an American illustrator and writer of children's picture books. In 2015, the American Library Association (ALA) honored him with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, recognizing his lasting contribution to children's literature. Common subjects of his include modern technology (especially travel vehicles), and childhood memories. His stories often include few huma ...more
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