A funny and deceptively simple meditation on unconditional filial love

IS MOMMY?

A passel of tots discuss their moms' positive and negative aspects with uncontained glee.

"Is mommy tall... / or short?" an unseen narrator asks a crimson-haired tyke wearing a matching crimson dress with white polka dots. The child imagines "tall" (mommy leans down lovingly, about to pick up her dubious-looking daughter) and "short" (now the child looms over a suddenly shrunken, dismayed-looking mommy). With a turn of the page, a definitive, spread-dominating speech bubble declares, "Short!" Other child-and-mommy pairings demonstrate pretty or ugly, nice or mean, fun or boring, young or old, neat or messy; each mommy is loudly adjudged the negative alternative, the growing crowd of children reveling in the mischief. Frazee uses tempera in a limited palette of candy colors, black, and white on soft tan Manila paper, brush strokes giving each area of color (plus the white speech bubbles) luscious texture. The moms look like tall, elongated versions of their children, down to identically colored clothing and hair and distinctive hairstyles. In fluidity of line, simplicity and boldness of palette, and often peculiarity of hairstyle, the figures evoke Seuss’ Whos; in sheer impishness, these children are 100-percent Frazee. When asked, “Do you love your short, ugly, mean, boring, old, messy mommy?” however, there is no question in these children’s minds: “Yes!”

A funny and deceptively simple meditation on unconditional filial love . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0292-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents.

TO THE MOON AND BACK FOR YOU

A poetic ode to women who became mothers despite the challenges they faced.

Whether navigating the roughest seas, crossing the hottest deserts, or pushing through painful brambles, the mothers in this book know their long, hard journeys were worth the effort. There might have been failure and doubt, but now that it’s all over, they know they’d “do it all over again. For you.” First-person narration expresses in metaphor the extraordinary lengths some mothers will go to achieve their dream of holding a child in their arms. Sentimental and flowery, the text is broad enough to apply to the journeys of many mothers—even though the text is gender neutral, the illustrations clearly center the mother’s experience. At times another figure, often male-presenting, is shown alongside a mother. Soft, jewel-toned illustrations peppered with textures depict families with a variety of skin tones and hair colors/textures. The assortment of mothers shown demonstrates the universality of the message, but it also contributes to the absence of a strong visual throughline. In the concluding author’s note, Serhant shares her personal struggle to conceive her child, which included fertility treatments and IVF. Ultimately, although the sentiment is lovely, the message is too abstract to be understood by children and will be better received and appreciated by parents.

Though it looks like a book for longed-for children, it’s really for their parents. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-17388-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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