When I was Just a Pea in a Pod 
by Pauline Roberts
Illustrated by Walter Eubanks
Trafford Publishing

"I loved my Auntie Mama—words cannot express how much. She cared for me when I was a pea."

The cover of Roberts' tale of childhood illness and economic hardship denotes that this is a true story. Told from the first person, the unnamed narrator, presumably Roberts, explains that she was a sickly infant. Her mother sought medical help, but in the end, decided to send the narrator to live with relatives. Roberts' relatives, her uncle and his wife, Agatha, cared for her and nursed her to health. Though Uncle Papa later died, Auntie Mama (Agatha) continued to care for Roberts, teaching her "how to turn a little into a lot." Although they may not have had "pretty clothes and fancy shoes or toys like the children next door," Roberts attests that she and the other children "were never unhappy."

The narrative depicts her infancy as a time of vulnerability and uncertainty. Still, she does not dwell on these hardships or her estrangement from her mother. Instead, the narrative reveals her troubled beginnings in order to establish how valuable her Auntie Mama truly was to her. Rather than turn this tale of hardship into a story of personal triumph and perseverance, Roberts reveals her humble beginnings as a means to pay tribute to her devoted and loving Auntie Mama. Though the book's illustrations sometimes feature poorly integrated photographs into otherwise well-rendered artwork, they serve the story well, revealing a family buttressed by hope and love in the face of scarcity.

Return to USR Home