This is a marvelous book from my childhood. I remember an elementary teacher reading this story to us. I was entranced. I loved the idea of helping get something beautiful for my mother. I also loved the chair they eventually got--velvet with big fat roses! Completely marvelous to my little kid mind.
This book was a Caldecott Honor book in 1983. The pictures are in a vibrant and happy primitive style.
Rosa's mother is a waitress at the Blue Tile Diner. Sometimes Rosa gets to help out, washing salt and pepper shakers and the like.
When Rosa's mother gets home, all her tip money goes into a giant jar of money. The small pay Rosa earns goes in there as well. If Grandma can save a few cents in her grocery shopping, the savings go in the jar.
Rosa's mother is sometimes exhausted after her shift, but Rosa and her grandmother count the money in the jar.
Rosa and her mother live with her grandmother. I love the strong female characters in this book. Her dad is never mentioned, whether he died or is just not in the picture isn't discussed. But they seem to do okay without him.
This chair is their goal--
A wonderful, beautiful, fat, soft armchair. We will get one covered in velvet with roses all over it. We are going to get the best chair in the whole world.
One day, a year or so ago, Rosa and her mother were walking home from buying new shoes. They admired the bright spring tulips and thought how lovely the world was.
Then they turned the corner into their street and into chaos. Their apartment building was burning.
They lost everything. But they didn't lose the wonderful people in their lives. Neighbors brought food to their new place. The family across the street brought furniture. Rosa's other grandpa brought a rug. Aunt Sally made red and white curtains. Mama's boss Josephine brought kitchenware. Rosa's cousin brought her own stuffed bear for Rosa.
Grandma made a speech
"You are all the kindest people," she said, "and we thank you very, very much. It's lucky we're young and can start all over again."
I love optimism!
They had everything they needed, but they didn't have any comfy furniture for Mama to "take a load off my feet." So she brought the giant jar home to fill up with chair money.
And finally, finally the jar was full to the gills.
They wrapped all the coins in paper wrappers and took the money to the bank to change it for cash.
On Mother's day off, they took the bus downtown to go chair shopping.
We tried out big chairs and smaller ones, high chairs and low chairs, soft chairs and harder one. Grandma said she felt like Goldilocks in 'The three bears' trying out all the chairs.
Then, their search came to an end. It was the chair.
Aunt Ida and Uncle Sandy brought it home for them in their pickup. Rosa tried it out before it was even out of the truck.
They put it near the window so Grandma can talk to the people passing by. After supper, I sit with Mama and she can reach right up and turn out the light if I fall asleep in her lap.
Buying a snuggling chair is a marvelous way to use money.