Lauren Bacall’s quote about whistling is classic, but when it comes to puckering, no one tops Mama Seeton.
Mama’s whistle to her family is heard throughout the neighborhood, letting her troops know it’s time to come home for dinner and chocolate cake, even as they grow older and roam farther afield. At last, all grown, they leave and settle in far-flung places; frequent letters don’t fend off Mama’s loneliness. When Papa Seeton suggests she put her lips together and blow for old times’ sake, she thinks he’s daft but does so anyway; of course, no one arrives—at first. Miraculously, the marvelous sound travels around the world and summons every Seeton scion home. In time, the Seeton children summon their own offspring with a clarion whistle that brings the new generation running. This is a sweet but odd tale, and readers may have to suspend quite a bit of disbelief to buy into the premise. The audience is unclear; frequent references to time passing and an aging parent’s wistfulness over her empty nest may be more resonant for adults than children. The ink-and-watercolor illustrations are charmingly cozy and retro; they easily evoke both a happy, close-knit family and the passage of time with carefully chosen details. In a nice nod to currency, she presents biracial grandkids.
If nothing else, the book will make kids eager to practice whistling. (Picture book. 4-7)