Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Where's my Mom?

Donaldson, Julia and Axel Scheffler. 2008. Where's my Mom? New York: Dial.

This is another book that has great illustrations and lukewarm text. Where's my Mom? is the story of a small blue butterfly that attempts to help a little monkey find his mother in the jungle. Much like a librarian's reference interview gone awry, the butterfly fails to elicit the correct information.

"She's big!" said the monkey. "Bigger than me." "Bigger than you? Then I've seen your mom. Come, little monkey, come, come, come."

At this point, the butterfly directs the monkey to the elephant. Further mix ups lead the butterfly to assume that the monkey's mother is, among other things, a snake ("her tail coils round trees"), a parrot and a bat. It never occurs to the butterfly that monkey's mom will look like the monkey. We suddenly understand her perspective when she reveals her own children, caterpillars, which do not look like her.

This story has great possibilities, however, some of the rhyming is forced, and I disliked the belittling of the other species. The monkey rejects the butterfly's misguided attempts at reuniting him with his mother, dismissing each of the creatures in turn - the spider is "hairy and fat," the frog is "slimy," the parrot squawks and shrieks.

The illustrations are vibrant and eye-catching. The human-like faces on both the monkey and the butterfly are quite cute and expressive. Children should enjoy the bright colors and of course, the safe and satisfying ending. Overall, though, I think that this book was a missed opportunity for a lesson in acceptance and perspective.

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