Julian’s father ”is a big man with wild black hair. When he laughs, the sun laughs in the windowpanes. When he thinks, you can almost see his thoughts sitting on all the tables and chairs.”
In these six brief stories told by Julian, father is a tremendous presence. He’s unpredictable, electrifying when angry, and almost as imaginative as 6- year-old Julian himself.
When Julian’s father makes a wonderful pudding to surprise Julian’s mother, it tastes like ”a whole raft of lemon…like a night on the sea.” Naturally, Julian and his little brother Huey can’t resist tasting it, then evening it out, then tasting a bit more. When father discovers the empty bowl, he roars that ”There is going to be some beating here now! There is going to be some whipping!” as Julian and Huey tremble. Huey, it turns out, must beat the yolks for a new pudding and Julian must whip the whites.
The Stories Jullian Tells, originally published in 1981, about this vivid African-American family are exhilarating and touching. Cameron’s particular strength is to capture, in revealing snatches of dialogue, the subtle eddies and undercurrents of feeling in normal family life. Yet her magically intense, almost poetic prose is simple enough for the youngest reader.
Tender and funny, the Julian stories are so insightful, suffused with love and the excitement of imaginative play, that they will never lose their universal appeal or their power to enchant. A+