a list of…five affectionate stories about moms

ol' mama squirrel cover imageOl’ Mama Squirrel, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein

If you think it’s prudent to never come between a mama bear and her cubs…let me introduce you to Ol’ Mama Squirrel!

This is one feisty mama! Of course, with all the creatures lurking about, just dying for a morsel of baby squirrel, she’s got a tough job on her hands for one so small. But each time she confronts an enemy with her steely look,  paws firmly on hips,  letting loose a shrill “Chook, chook, chook!“,  let me tell you, those creatures vamoose!

One enemy, however, is too large even for Ol’ Mama. No matter how she chooks and chatters, or even pelts this fellow with her store of acorns, still heol' mama squirrel illustration david ezra stein threatens her babies. What will Mama do? Fortunately, she is up to the challenge, and with the aid of a formidable host of other mamas, the scalawag is sent packing!

Capitalizing on the legendary fierceness of mother love, David Ezra Stein has written a vibrant, enthusiastic, happy tale. Ol’ Mama is a delightful character, and the powerful results of her chook-ing are immensely satisfying! When I read it, I was reminded a little of the tsk-tsk-tsking done by the peddlar and monkeys in Caps for Sale — such a jolly, rip-roaring shout for everyone to break into throughout the story. Plus, the magnificent image of this no-nonsense posse of mama squirrels running down the intruder is fantastic!

Stein’s artwork is deceptively simple, with strong line, superb energy, and just the right combination of strength and pertness in Mama.     And not to worry — he promises no squirrels were harmed in the making of this book 🙂 New in 2013, great fun for preschoolers and up.

are you my mother cover imageAre You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman

If somehow you don’t already know this classic story, it’s about a baby bird who hatches while his mother happens to be away, and then sets out to find her. Never having seen his mother, however, he can’t identify her. In fact — he walks right pastare you my mother illustration2 p.d. eastman her!  Unbelievable.

Checking with a kitten, a hen, a dog, a cow, and even a car, a boat, and a plane, our baby bird is tremendously distraught to find that none of these is his mother. The last straw occurs when a terrifying Snort scoops him up and carts him away. With that, the baby bird simply breaks out wailing! “I want to go home! I want my mother!

And suddenly — all his problems are solved! Phew!!

I wonder how many times we read this book!  First published in 1960, it simply does not grow old. The tension builds up as that poor baby bird searches for mother until he is simply bawling out his woe…and then, everything turns quiet and happy and cozy! The smug, superior knowledge of the child-reader about such things as Snorts allows her to chuckle at this bird’s naïveté, but still…we feel his pain! And such a happy ending. So reassuring.

Perfect for beginning readers, but just as brilliant as a read-aloud for ages 2 and older. Everyone ought to know this one.

mother mother i want another cover imageMother, Mother, I Want Another, by Maria Polushkin Robbins, illustrated by Jon Goodell

It’s bedtime for baby mouse, and as usual mother helps him get ready, tucks him in, reads a story, and gives him a good night kiss. BUT…

The original illustrations are by Diane Dawson.

The original illustrations are by Diane Dawson.

…this time baby mouse starts crying, “I want another, Mother!”

Ah…what a world of difference a comma can make! For Mama Mouse hears him say “I want another mother.”

Aghast that her baby prefers another mother,  but ever ready to provide for him, she runs around the countryside on her errand. Yet none of the local moms she recruits — Mrs. Duck, Mrs. Frog, Mrs. Pig, Mrs. Donkey — seems to be just what baby mouse is looking for. What does a young mouse have to do to get another…kiss?!

Funny and sweet, this story was published first in 1975. We read it many times with our small children, and now it’s been given new illustrations. Silly and sweet for preschoolers and up.

my mom cover imageMy Mom, written and illustrated by Anthony Browne

I have saved lots of incredibly dear notes and cards, painstakingly written and drawn for me by my children over the years. No matter how wobbly the spelling or Picasso-esque the portrait, words of praise from a child are golden to mothers.

Anthony Browne’s book reads like the simple declarations of a young child describing

Buy it in the UK and get a mum rather than a mom!

Buy it in the UK and get a mum rather than a mom!

his faithful mom. She fills many heroic roles in his world, besides being “as comfy as an armchair” and especially, particularly nice. The capstone of it all, though, is her tremendous, unfailing love for him.

Isn’t that what we all long for? Someone to love us on, and on, and on? It’s an exhausting privilege to do this for the children in our lives, whether or not we are their mothers, and it’s what makes this brief book ring true and hit home.

Browne’s apple-cheeked, kind, down-to-earth mom looks like someone we’d all like for a friend. His illustrations are delightful, and very, very clever as he spins off from iconic images and artists. Plus, the lovely floral fabric in mom’s bathrobe imaginatively appears throughout the pages, tying all of this child’s thoughts together and to mom.

So much unrestrained love! Delightful.

this quiet lady cover imageThis Quiet Lady, by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Anita Lobel

In this story, a little girl is looking at photographs of her mother through the years. She finds them in frames around the house, and in the pages of an old scrapbook. “This baby smiling in her bassinette under the crocheted throw is my mother,” she says. Such a mind-bending thought.

As each page turns, we see that little girl growing up, going to school, getting married. There she is, a quiet smile on her face, “lovely and large” with child, this quiet lady illus. anita lobel 001and…voila! in the next picture she has a tiny baby in her arms. A new beginning.

It’s a book filled with quiet wonder, and Lobel’s illustrations are the perfect complement. On the left-hand pages she gives us quiet, muted snapshots of the narrator as she moves about the house finding old photographs or lolls on the summer grass with that hefty scrapbook. On the opposite sides are beautiful, soft, richly colored images of the photo she’s spied. Watching her mother grow up, we also watch the eras spin by, from frilly baby bonnet to a Beatle’s lunch box; flower-child fashions giving way to more sophisticated elegance.

It’s short and sweet, and may well prompt you to get out your own photos for your children.

Here are Amazon links for all these books full of mother-love:

Ol’ Mama Squirrel
Are You My Mother? (Beginner Books(R))
Mother Mother I Want Another
My Mom
This Quiet Lady