Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ode to Mothers

Here's my most recent review of books for children.

My daughter graduates from high school this month and I have been going though her papers. I found a folder with all her handmade Mother’s Day cards and got a warm, rosy glow as I remembered the intimacy we shared (still do). I hope that in your hectic days with little ones you make the time to snuggle with your child over some books. Use this time together to secure a safe and quiet harbor for her so that she will be able to return to your port in the storms that are surely on her horizon. Make memories for yourself in this way, so when she shoves off and heads for adventures on the high seas of life, you too will revisit intimate book times and feel my same warm, rosy glow.

Here are a few books that celebrate mothers and their loving children.

My Mother is Mine by Marion Dane Bauer

Each page features a baby animal interacting with its mother. "My mother is soft" appears opposite two sheep cuddled together; "My mother is strong" shows a tiger carrying her cub in her mouth; and two owls sitting together on a branch illustrate "My mother watches me long and long." Young children will recognize the parallels between their own families and those of the animals.

Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joose

Love is the only thing that really matters! There's no mistaking the powerful allure of unconditional love in this young children's book. It depicts an Inuit mother who loves her daughter, no matter what. Throughout the story the daughter repeatedly asks, "Mama, do you love me?" She comes up with many intriguing and playful reasons why the mother might be persuaded to withhold love. For example, what if the daughter broke the ptarmigan eggs? What if she put lemmings in her mother's mukluks? The mother does not hide or lie about her feelings. Sometimes she says she would be surprised, or angry, or scared, but these variable emotions do not change her love for her daughter. Her daughter is her Dear One, always and forever.

My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck

Little monster tells readers the many ways his mama shows that she loves him: she attends all of his beastball games; sings him lullabies and tucks him into bed; and "She gives me great big hairy hugs,/bakes me cookies filled with bugs,/and when I'm sick she's twice as nice-/she gives me lizard juice with ice." "Oops-one other thing is true:/Your monster mama loves you too!" Leuck delivers a reassuring message in a funny, mildly scary story.

Mama's Saris by Pooja Makhijani

When a young girl eyes her mother's suitcase full of gorgeous silk, cotton and embroidered saris, she decides that she, too, should wear one, even though she is too young for such clothing. When the mother finally realizes how important it is for her little girl to feel like a big girl on her seventh birthday, she dresses up her daughter in the folds of a blue sari.

Mama, I'll Give You the World by Roni Schotte

Every day after school, Luisa does her homework until her hairdresser mother gets off work. Recalling that her mother used to dance "when Dad was around," Luisa colludes with the regulars to throw Mom a rug-cutting birthday surprise that leaves everyone teary and laughing. Luisa herself dances in graceful, unstudied poses through nearly every frame, and the intimacy shared between child and single parent is evident.

My Mama Had A Dancing Heart by Libba Gray

If I left this world today, this is how I would want my daughter to remember me. The narrator shares a remembrance of her mother, who welcomed each season with boundless enthusiasm and bade her daughter to do the same: "Bless the world/ it feels like/ a tip-tapping/ song-singing/ finger-snapping/ kind of day. / Let's celebrate." The two danced barefoot in the spring rain, ran through the summer surf with balloons and kites tied to their wrists, performed a "leaf-kicking/ leg-lifting/ hand-clapping/ hello autumn ballet," and lay on the ground to make snow angels in winter. Now a ballerina, the girl notes how these memories serve as inspiration as she leaps across the stage.

May your children leap across their stage with the strong legs and winged hearts with which you have enabled them.

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"Color is the real substance for me, the real underlying thing which drawing and line are not."
--Sam Francis

"The great man is one who never loses his child's heart."
-- Philosopher Mencius

"We wear our attitudes in our bodies."
-- Patti Davis

Colour embodies an enormous though unexplored power which can effect the entire human body as physical organism.

Colour is a means of exercising direct influence upon the soul.
--V. Kandinsky
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way.. things I had no words for.
Georgia O'Keeffe

Nothing is really work unless you'd rather be doing something else.
J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Faith is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
E. L. Doctorow

Somebody once said that people become artists
because they have a certain kind of energy to release, and that rings true to me.
--Dale Chihuly