The Jones Family Express

By Publishers Weekly

In this down-to-earth Brooklyn tale, young Steven awaits a visit from his world-traveling Aunt Carolyn. “Once, when I was three, I hid in her suitcase so she would take me with her,” the middle-school boy explains. “She was so tickled, she promised to send me a postcard from every place she went until I was old enough to travel with her.” Aunt Carolyn has kept her word, and Steven wants to thank her with a truly original gift. When he cannot find a suitable present at a drugstore or a Jamaican culture shop on Nostrand Avenue, a secondhand toy train inspires him: “The paint was peeling off and some of the windows were broken, but I could see it had potential.” Like the snapshots Steven glues onto the toy locomotive’s windows to transform it into “The Jones Family Express,” the elements of Steptoe’s artwork combine into layered compositions: his rough-hewn collages of an African American family appear against a background of scattered postcards with exotic stamps and jokey cursive messages… The hero’s artistic, labor-intensive expression of love is the heart of this book.