Reviewed by Deborah Menkart
Reviewed Source: Teaching for Change
Book Author: Eloise Greenfield
Renowned children’s book author Eloise Greenfield opens her latest title with a note to readers, “I want to take you back only as far as the Africa of a few hundred years ago. That’s when millions of Africans were forced from their homelands, brought to America, and enslaved. Some of the enslaved were midwives.” This unique picture book begins with an essay on the history of midwives, written in prose that is accessible to young readers and accompanied by archival photographs. The book then switches to poetry and stunningly beautiful illustrations — with vignettes from lives of midwives during slavery, emancipation, and today. Greenfield closes with a poem about the midwife who “caught” her when she was born, Miss Rovenia Mayo of Parmele, North Carolina.
The Women Who Caught the Babies by Eloise Greenfield
Published by ALAZAR Press on 2019-09
Genres: African American, Girls and Women, Health, Slavery, Women
Reading Level: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8
Review Source: Rethinking Schools
Also by this author: The Great Migration, Honey, I Love
The Women Who Caught the Babies highlights important aspects of the training and work of African-American midwives and the ways in which they have helped, and continue to help, so many families by "catching" their babies at birth. The blend of Eloise Greenfield's poetry and Daniel Minter's art evokes heartfelt appreciation of the abilities of African-American midwifes over the course of time. The poem "Africa to America" begins the poetic journey. The poem "The Women" both heralds the poetry/art pairing and concludes it with a note of gratitude. Also included is a piece titled "Miss Rovenia Mayo," which pays tribute to the midwife who caught newborn Eloise.