Two books sweet as lemon pudding, celebrating the rich connections between mothers and daughters. Both for ages 3 and up.
This is Our House, written and illustrated by Hyewon Yum
published in 2013 by Frances Foster Books
The house where this little girl lives, with its warm red bricks, polka dotted curtains, graceful trees, and busy front stoop, is the same house where her grandparents arrived long ago, new immigrants, a young couple, suitcases in hand.
Between then and now, her mother was born amid the pink blossoms of springtime and grew up in a hubbub of brothers and cats. She played on these very same front steps. She ate hot soup in this very same kitchen. Mother and daughter learned to walk and pedal a bicycle on the exact same street. Imagine!
The spare text of this lovely book speaks with simplicity and pleasure through the voice of this happy girl. Free of excess words, sentimentality, and adult thoughts, it effortlessly walks us through generations of time, while smiling at the beauty of familiarity, continuity, home and family.
Hyewon Yum’s charming watercolors include full-page views of rosy-cheeked kids amid changing seasons and decades, and smaller illustrations framed to look like photographs which increase the nostalgic quality of the book. A delicious pairing of word and picture to share between the generations.
The Paper Dolls, by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Rebecca Cobb
published in 2012 by Macmillan Children’s Books
I found this irresistable book at a shop in Edinburgh this spring and snapped it up.
It’s the story of a little girl “who had tiger slippers and a ceiling with stars on it and a butterfly hairslide which she kept losing…”
She also has a “nice mother” who loves to help her make paper dolls — hand-in-hand chains of brightly-crayoned dollies with green stripey socks and purplish-red curls and names like Ticky and Tacky and Jackie the Backie.
These beloved paper dolls meet with many wild adventures, surviving them all until…well, I won’t give it away. It is quite a startling moment in the story!
Suffice it to say that even if treasured paper dolls seem to be ruined, they live on in a girl’s memory, and one day, when she has a little girl of her own, they just might make a reappearance.
When my daughters were young, they would work for hours with a friend making legions of paper dolls, and like the ones in this story, many of them have names and backstories which live on. Perhaps that’s what makes this story so genuine and appealing. It rings true, as well as rejoicing in the power of imagination and memory and the bonds between mothers and daughters that span generations just like those chains of paper dolls.
Rebecca Cobb’s bright, cheery, naive illustrations rocket the childlike quality of this story to the stars, and don’t I just love the cherry reds she splashes into every scene! Sadly, it’s not been brought over to the U.S. generally, but maybe your independent bookseller will import some if you ask nice. Tell her they’ll all sell in a flash!