This week, our story time books all have mothers in them, frustrated moms and brave moms, comforting and visionary moms, and one mom who smells like roses and is waiting on the doorstep with a kiss for her little boy. To go straight to the summaries of the books, scroll down. I’m going to pause just a minute and share a few pics. In this first one, my mom, my sister (who wasn’t a mom yet), and my husband’s mom were all waiting outside the hospital door while on the other side I was becoming a mom for the very first time.
It perfectly captures that sense of excitement and anxiousness and I-can’t-wait-hurry-up-and-have-that-baby feeling we all had! There’s a guy at the dog park where we take Humphrey whose wife is about to have a baby, and people keep giving him a hard time telling him he’s about to lose all his free time and he’s going to get no sleep and dirty diapers are disgusting and I tell him that’s all true but it doesn’t matter. Because he’s going to have these heart-in-his-throat moments that trump it all. Like this one, when I had all three of my chicks all gathered up plus Clay on one shoulder and yellow duck on the other and Alayna full of kisses and hugs and Nate full of crooked smiles and stories and new Benji with wide staring eyes and possibilities and life was full.
And then I blinked and they grew up and were beautiful and Alayna is adventurous and ready to embark on a life of possibilities and Nate is still full of stories and smiles and Benji’s baby staring eyes are now in an 18-year-old’s body and are taking in life all around him and I love to sit across the table and hear about what he’s seeing and thinking about it all.
I love being a mom. I love my mom, and Clay’s mom, and all the mom’s in my life. Happy Mother’s Day and I hope you can harness some kids and read them some books this week! Here are our books this week:
Scarlette Beane by Karen Wallace, illustrated by Jon Berkeley
This is a good one for young kids. There isn’t much text and the pictures are nice and big and bright. I love the blessing the mom speaks over her daughter on the first page of this book, “‘We shall call her Scarlette,’ declared Mrs. Beane. ‘She will grow tall and strong and do something wonderful.'” The family lives in a house as small as a garden shed so they work outside as much as possible, gardening while their sweet baby, Scarlette, sleeps in her stroller nearby, the ends of her magical fingers glowing green. When her dad gives Scarlette her very own garden on her fifth birthday, wonderful things happen. She grows veggies so enormous it takes a forklift to harvest the onions and chainsaws to cut the parsley. They feed everyone in the village soup, and Scarlette grows a most wonderful, magical new home for her family under the light of a full moon. A castle of vegetables!
This picture book is just the right amount of “scary” for little guys, suspense that’s resolved on the very next page with Mama Meow, the kitten’s mother, reassuring her/him (it can be either since it’s told from the kitten’s point of view and drawn neutral, I’ll go with a girl) that whatever she’s frightened of is not so scary. The “giant” is just Auntie B and the “crocodiles” are just Auntie B’s shoes. Excitement builds when the kittens sees an “eensie-weensie spider” that turns out to be “Scratchpooch’s” nose and whiskers which the kitten takes care of all on her own. With a BONK! and a KAPOW! from kitten, Mama Meow declares her Tiger Cat. Another good one for littles with minimal text and such a sweetness.
Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild! By Mem Fox, illustrated by Marla Frazee
I’m a huge fan of both the author and the illustrator and this book is precious to me because it’s signed by the illustrator. I have to include a picture because I love when illustrators draw a picture when they sign a book (and I’m a little jealous they can do that. I can barely sign my name when someone hands me a copy of Her Own Two Feet to sign, I’m so nervous I’ll mess up and either misspell their name, or my own, ha!)
But I digress. I love that this book keeps it real. It’s about a child named Harriet who doesn’t mean to be pesky, she just is, and a mother who doesn’t like to yell, and tries her very best to keep her cool, until she just can’t. Harriet spills her juice and some jam, pulls the tablecloth (and everything else) off the table, and rips open a pillow (with the help of the dog) . . . and then there is a terrible silence (and an awesome illustration where feathers hang suspended in the bedroom behind Harriet’s mom, where she sits at a kitchen table, her eyes wide, her pen hanging suspended above a letter). Then Mom yells and yells and Harriet says, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” in a flurry of wildness like feathers flying from pillows and then comes the hugs and the forgiveness and the settling and they laugh as they clean up their mess together. Keeping it real. I love it. Perfect for littles, minimal text, lots of feelings and love.
This book is absolutely beautiful, both the illustrations and the message. While the text is spare, it’s a book for all ages including adults, with so much to talk about and look at. It’s the story of a mother with a small child who travels across a bridge and becomes an immigrant in a foreign land where she doesn’t speak the language. She and her child make mistakes as they try to understand and find their way to a library where they learn to read and find their voice. There is a lot going on in the illustrations and plenty to talk about that isn’t being said explicitly. There are Spanish and English words, and lyrical language, for example, “One day we bundled gifts in our backpack and crossed a bridge outstretched like the universe,” and in the illustration the words “Adios Corazon” (goodbye, beloved) are stitched. I love this sweet mother and her determination to give her child a better life, leaving behind her beloved homeland. At first she is suspicious of a place like a library, where books are free to borrow, she finds it improbable, then “unbelievable, surprising, unimaginable . . .” What a gift, to be reminded that books and stories are . . . a gift!
A Gift for Mama by Linda Ravin Lodding, illustrated by Alison Jay
This book is set in Vienna, where a boy named Oskar wants to buy his mama the perfect gift for her birthday. He starts off buying her a beautiful yellow rose for a single coin, but on the next page an artist wants the rose and so he trades it for a paintbrush, and ends up trading that to a conductor for some sheet music, and so it goes, until he comes to a girl with a beautiful yellow rose pinned to her dress with no gift for her mama. He gives her the candies he got from the empress and is empty-handed as he goes home to his mama that evening, until the girl runs up and gives him the rose from her dress. Oskar’s mama kisses him and tells him his gift is, “Perfect.” Perfect. 🙂