Adorable mama animals express their joy interacting with and tending to their young. A short, spare sentence conveys each act, starting with “I kiss my baby every morning.” From bringing food to providing warmth, moms will relate to how even these relatively simple-yet-essential acts show how much they care. Saturated, polished mixed-media illustrations charmingly portray the maternal-child bond.
Moms get their turn in this follow-up to the author’s book about dads. Playful illustrations, comprising shades of black, gray and red set against white space, show an exuberant young girl interacting with her stylish mom. “I help you wake up …” she says, offering her dozing mom (at 5 a.m.) a cow-shaped mug. Through yoga poses — with the daughter atop her mom’s legs saying “I test your flexibility …” — and visiting a museum where the child eyeballs a water cooler (“I show you how to see things differently …”), the child enriches the mom’s experiences in joyful, unexpected ways.
Loving Hands, by Tony Johnston; illustrated by Amy June Bates (Candlewick)
This heartfelt story, told in an earnest-yet-gentle lyrical rhythm, explores the growing connection between a parent and child. From a boy’s birth to his becoming an adult, the mother’s and son’s hands intersect. The book begins: “A child is born one winter day./His mother calls him Lamb./She hums a tune that has no words/and holds her baby’s hand.” She helps her son walk and climb stairs, and carries him; they bake bread, work in the garden and play in the snow. Then, she waves goodbye — first for grade school, then later as his car is packed. Moms, especially those with kids preparing to leave the nest, or those with adult children, will need tissues.
“Hello, I am Little Fish, swimming in the seas. Today we have a special day — just Mommy Fish and me.” Who could resist such a cute opening? A polka-dot mama fish with long eyelashes and a big smile plays co-star to Little Fish in this fun-shaped board book. Lucy Cousins’s familiar bold and bright illustrations pair perfectly with the rhyme. It’s easy to hold and fun to look at, with a comforting message.
Mama Bear has lots to do, so she wants Bella Bear to pick up the pace as they try to leave the house. But Bella is on her own schedule, or, like many toddlers — lack of schedule. Mama Bear nudges along her daughter: “‘Come and brush your teeth, my love.’/But brushing isn’t Bella’s thing./Instead she’s packing up her bag./Deciding what she ought to bring.” When Mama Bear unexpectedly sees the impact of her actions on the child, she changes course. Moms with lengthy to-do lists (most moms!) will recognize themselves and want to chuck that list (at least for a time). Adorable art, gentle humor and relatable situations make this tender and jubilant story one to read and reread.
A little girl and her mom, starting the day on their farm, and later winding down for the night, bookend poems featuring woodland animals, birds, mountains, weather and the ocean. Emphasizing connection, the unexpected and playful verses (mainly without capitalization and punctuation) will delight little ears, while offering older kids a chance to puzzle out the meanings: “if i was a flower/and you were a nose/i’d call you sniff/and you’d call me rose.” Lush acrylic illustrations infused with light create a warm effect.
In this story now available in a board book, kids learn the steps to taking care of their mom. The tips range from helping her choose an outfit (“Not too serious./Not too silly./Not too sparkly./Perfect!”) to planning a play date to making mealtime fun. Kids get to be the expert here, while learning to appreciate the big and small efforts that go into raising a loved one.
With just a few words on each page, verses extol the reassuring ways that mothers enhance a child’s days: “When I’m feeling/in a muddle,/your loving arms/give me a cuddle.” The sweet sentiment and classic Peter Rabbit images in this small, gift-sized book make it perfect for bedtime, especially on Mother’s Day.
Mia Geiger is a writer in the Philadelphia area. Follow her on Twitter @MiaGeiger.