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Mainly Mamas

By on April 28, 2015

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A springtime crop of new books and old favorites has arrived just in time for Mother’s Day! Whether you are Mom or Dad, make time to snuggle with your child(ren) and share some of these delightful titles. As you establish and maintain family traditions don’t hesitate to take advantage of these wonderful picture books. They will supply an opportunity to read and talk with your child(ren) about what’s important in your family. Enjoy!!

Meribeth Shank

Because Your Mommy Loves You

by Andrew Clements, illustrated by R. W. Alley

MommylovesyouThis book for young children, who want to be independent, is also for moms who sometimes flicker between heavy supervision and allowing offspring to meet their own challenges. Off to camp in the woods, a boy and his mom begin by getting supplies. When he gets lost and calls out, “mommy could say, It’s all right, I’m coming to find you! But she doesn’t.” In following situations mom could step in to rescue. Together they climb steep paths, wearing heavy backpacks, cross a wobbly bridge, set up a tent, and roast marshmallows. However, what mommy does is explain or show by her example how to solve the situation. She then watches as the child completes the task himself. Following a repeating pattern, reassuring language engages youngsters. Mommy is untiring in her cheerful guidance. Child listeners and beginning readers will recognize growing self-confidence as the story continues. Lively text matches with active ink, watercolor and acrylic illustrations to capture both the boy’s beginning uneasiness and his pride as his attempts result in success. This tender book happily follows a jaunty day of hiking adventures with sleeping in a tent.

Clarion, $16.99 (hardcover), $6.99 (paperback) Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 1 (This book is available to borrow at Miami Dade Public Library: Main branch, West Dade Regional, South Shore. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Heather Has Two Mommies

by Leslea Newman, illustrated by Laura Cornell

HeatherA new edition of Newman’s story, first published in 1989 (by Alyson Publications), is a simple yet powerful story about Heather whose favorite number is two. She has two legs, two hands, two eyes, two pets and two mommies. When Heather goes to school for the first time, the children are asked to draw pictures of their families. She wonders if she’s the only one without a daddy. But as the teacher observes, “The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.” Young readers see different kinds of families: Joshua’s family picture includes his “mommy and stepfather dropping him off at his daddy’s house.” Emily’s picture features her grandma and their two dogs. David’s mommy and daddy just brought home a new baby sister. Watercolor and gouache paintings are cheerful, bright and childlike. Full page spreads show family life in Heather’s home and wide views of the classroom. Smaller images show elements of a child’s day, giving glimpses of great diversity among the children and adults in the classroom setting.

Candlewick, $16.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 2 (This book is available to borrow at Miami Dade Public Library: Main branch, Lemon City, North Dade Regional, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya

by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

mamamitiWangari grew up in Mount Kenya’s shadow, hearing stories about the importance of trees for water and for making peace. Her wisdom grew, like the trees, from the traditions in her family, village, country and continent. She planted trees herself. And when women came to her, asking for help with their families, Wangari gave them seeds. She taught them to plant trees, too. The extraordinary collage artwork in this book uses both oil paints and fabric to capture Kenyan culture. In the same way, Wangari’s life models the Kenyan spirit of working together for the common good. The rhythm of a repetitive storyline can be hypnotic for young listeners. A refrain from the Kikuyu language and its English translation separates each short narrative, “Thayu nyumba – Peace, my people.” Repeated text builds power as Wangari’s work continues. The strength of a group effort is reproduced in a double page spread near the end: glorious fabrics and many faces represent the Kenyan people.  This beautiful picture book is an unusual biography of a Kenyan woman who has helped to create a new future. Not only for herself and other women, but also a hopeful future for her country.

Simon & Schuster, $17.99 Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3 (This book is available to borrow at Miami Dade Public Library: Allapattah, Culmer Overtown, Edison, North Dade Regional, Opa Locka, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

More Marvelous Mothers:

Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackwell. Penguin, $7.99 (paperback) Interest Level: Junior Kindergarten – Grade 2.  (This book is available to borrow at Miami Dade Public Library: Main Branch, Allapattah, Culmer Overtown, Edison, Little River, North Dade Regional, Opa Locka. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Where’s My Mom? by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler.  Dial, $17.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1. (This book is available to borrow at Miami Dade Public Library: Main branch, Culmer Overtown, Lemon City, Opa Locka, West Dade Regional. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

Knit Together by Angela Dominguez. Dial, $16.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1 (This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)

I Love Mom by Joanna Walsh, illustrated by Judi Abbot. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Grade 1
(This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.

Little Baby Buttercup by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Yyou Byun. Penguin, $16.99 Interest Level: Pre-Kindergarten – Kindergarten (This book may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)


 Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, teaches classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College. You can also find her on the web: http://meribeths.blogspot.com    

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