“Once again, thank you for being a guest speaker in my St. Louis History Through the Arts class – My students were awestruck by your storytelling! They absolutely loved “Mike Fink — Last of the Great Mississippi Keelboatmen” Bravo!

Dr. Ted Green, professor, Webster University, St. Louis July, 2011

Lynn, congratulations on OH FREEDOM AFTER WHILE and your book, Mama’s Window, that sprang from it. Both the DVD and the book are magnificent, informative, and inspirational. I wish you great success in finding as many viewers and readers as possible. People of all ages will be moved by the experience and learn from it.

Poet, author, educator
Springfield, Missouri

Hi Lynn,

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your reader’s theatre presentation of Rosie’s Walk at the SCBWI Agents Day on Saturday. I’m a Special School District teacher in Webster Groves, and I was happy to learn some new ways to engage my students with literature. Thanks for sharing your strategies!

–Ruth Donnelly

I always love it when you come to my class (to teach Mama’s Window and discuss your film, “Oh Freedom After While”) …such energy, wisdom, expertise and love for life!

Dr. Ted Green
Associate Professor, Social Studies
School of Education
Webster University
St. Louis, Missouri

Mama’s Window – a reflection by Dr. Diane Chakraborty, Psy D, Psychology Fellow, University of Minnesota

You have created a wonderful story and characters who inspire. I really identified with Sugar’s fighting spirit and sense of justice/injustice. Itís very interesting to think about what this may have looked like in the young Owen Whitfield (upon whom you modeled Sugar). When I think about some of the lessons of the book, I feel that one of the most important is about the transforming nature of grief and loss. Sugar moves from grief to integrating the loss of his mother into a loving and active memory. I also love the lessons around confronting oneís fears and/or traumas. It’s nice to see Sugar evolve in (his relation to) nature, to watch the impact of his being immersed in the swamp.

The relationship between Stewie and Sugar was important in that, obviously, so many of us, and kids, deal with serious bullying. The Pearsons’ reaction to Sugar’s fighting Stewie was a nice hook in the story. Sugar’s sense of injustice was very engaging. The story to me- was also about integrity, being true to oneself — honesty, and hard work. The central characters in Sugarís life ñ his mother and uncle ñ personify these characteristics. This is a story that really stays with you.

James Earle Martin, known as Sugar, is having a rough time. His mother has died, and he is living with his Uncle Free on a swamp filled with snakes, bugs, and leeches. Because of a railroading accident, Uncle Free can barely walk and uses only one arm. The women from Sweet Kingdom Church disapprove of his mother’s choice for his guardian. Young Stewie Pearson calls Sugar ‘swamp rat’ and detects the smell of fish. Just when things couldn’t get much worse, Sugar learns that the trustees of Sweet Kingdom have reallocated the money his mother donated for a stained-glass window featuring black angels. After the years she spent saving money in turn-of-the-century Mississippi her dream and her memorial will not be represented when the new church building is dedicated. Young readers will root for Sugar as he learns to fight for his mother’s dream and to enlist others. Of equal importance, this short novel values Uncle Free’s self-sufficiency, the bonds of extended family, and the challenges of community. Mama’s Window slyly creates outsiders and insiders who ultimately prove indistinguishable from one another. —Lisa Woolley

Your description of the characters and their surroundings put us right there in Mississippi. I yelled out loud when Sugar lost his pole and oars. Papa thought something was wrong with me. Actually, I yelled out a “bad” word. I laughed out loud when Sugar whacked Stewie across the face with the fish. Finally, he stood up to him. Uncle Free turned out to be a soft-touch. Mama did know just what she was doing. After three months or so with Uncle Free, Sugar finally felt like the swamp was home.

I’ve always been a city boy, but after reading your book, I felt like I was down South in the country. Each page painted a picture. I could see the island the night of the storm. I could see the construction on the church and the stained glass window. You are truly a wonderful storyteller, author, and human being. Keep up the good work!

Warm regards,
Jackie and Papa

The descriptive language and colorful characters made “Mama’s Window”
an excellent read-a-loud choice for my fourth grade class. The students
were begging to hear more about Sugar and the swamp and when it was
finished, they were requesting the sequel. The story provided
springboards of discussion on a wide range of topics from the medicinal
uses of leeches to the importance of creating memorials; from the
scientific study of Cypress trees to debates on how to face your fears.

Jean Turney, 4th grade teacher, St. John the Baptist School, St. Louis, MO

I plan to use Mama’s Window with children who grow up with grandparents, uncles and unrelated (distant) relatives, and children of divorce who must spend a designated period of time shifting from home to school and 2nd home leaving old friends and unable to make “new” friends. There are many instances of courage especially for young boys in MAMAs book. I love it.
Caroline Penberthy, MSW, St. Louis, MO

Comments on Mama’s Window by 4th graders at St. John the Baptist School. St. Louis, MO

Mrs. Rubright – In Mama’s Window I liked the part where Sugar hit the snag and the boat smashed into pieces and Sugar was trapped, because I like mysterious books and war books. Mama’s Window was mysterious and adventurous and it brought out nature. It kinda meant if you’re disabled you can still work. Andy!

Thank you Mrs. Rubright. I appreciate your coming. I love the book (mama’s Window) so much I decided to make my own book. It will be called Might Mom. I love to make stories. Sincerely, Ariel

I like how your story all fits together and I also like the ending. Sincerely, Shane

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