“Ernestine’s Milky Way” book review

Inspired by a friend of the author, Ernestine Edwards Upchurch (1937-2017) – a lifelong resident of Maggie Valley, NC

Picture books are one of my favorite forms of self-care.

Don’t laugh.

Really, nothing smooths out the rough edges of a hectic day and can “cleanse” your reading palate like a picture book. Or ten.

“Ernestine’s Milky Way” by Kerry Madden-Lunsford is the perfect recipe to lift your spirits, and if you’re reading it to a little person, it’ll lift their spirits too!

I confidently place this picture book in the highest possible category alongside the most cherished ones I read to my children when they were little.

Set in the 1940s in Maggie Valley in the Great Smoky Mountains, Ernestine lives alone with her pregnant mother while her father – and most the men – are off fighting in WWII.

Right away, this has my attention. How many picture books are set during this period? Not enough.

Every morning, Ernestine hollered out her window to the Great Smoky Mountains, “I’m five years old and I’m a big girl!”

Ernestine’s Milky Way

Five-year-old Ernestine is sent on an important errand and she’s a little scared but proud to help her Mama by delivering milk to a nearby family. Themes of determination, gratitude, and the importance of community will help foster great discussions about how you and I can be more like Ernestine. There are so many valuable lessons to unpack!

Emily Sutton’s stunning illustrations separate this picture book from the crowd. You will return to the story, again and again, each time noticing different details in the artwork. Non-reading little ones will adore the beautiful and colorful drawings, as well as pointing out the different animals, trees, berries, and plants.

Do you need a “read aloud?” This story would make an excellent choice! Teachers and librarians, “Ernestine’s Milky Way” would be a great addition to your classroom or school library. Grandparents and parents, it would be a fantastic book for your collection too.

If you’d like a copy of your own, I highly recommend purchasing from an independent bookstore. I ordered this one from MJudson Booksellers in Greenville, South Carolina. Teachers receive a discount, so be sure to ask about it.

Happy Reading!


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