When I first read the title, I thought it said Just Like Mama. No “A.” And that for certain changes the meaning of the book.
Just Like a Mama is a modern story about the things a “not mom” does to help the young child of the story. Mama Rose might not be the “actual” mother, but she loves the narrator (Carol Olivia Clementine), makes her do her chores, tells her to eat her vegetables and all the other things mamas do. Carol goes through all the thoughts and feelings she would have as if this was her “real” mother (sad she disappointed, not wanting to eat her veggies or clean her room). But the point of the story is, she might not live with her biological mother, but her Mama Rose is a real mama and they are a real family.
The theme can be adapted to almost any “nontraditional” family setting. The girl says her parents live far away, so it could be about a parent who lives in another city or state. The parent could be in prison or has even passed on. The interpretation there is up to you. Yet, this is a book about family. This is a book that shows no matter if you are not “like someone else” you are perfectly normal.
This story is loosely based on the experiences of Alice Faye Duncan. She has an afterwards describing the inspiration for the story
Charnelle Pinkney Barlow’s illustrations are bold, bright and readable on their own. There is a lot going on in them and a pleasure to view.