WHEN MAMA RETIRES by Karen Ackerman


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When Mama talks about retiring, it's housework she's planning to give up: with Dad overseas, she's joining other women contributing to the WW II effort by working in factories. First, though, ""It's time I taught you boys how to do some things around here,"" and--as the narrator reminds his younger brothers--they did promise Dad to ""pitch in."" The three are soon mastering a washer-wringer, turning a fresh eye to tidying their own belongings, and singing ""Mairzy Doats"" while they help out with meals and cleaning. Nicely catching the period flavor, Ackerman also deftly reilluminates the question of who takes responsibility for household chores. New illustrator Grace animates the scenes with sinuous lines that fairly vibrate with energy (the dauntingly large washer is particularly amusing), counterpointing their bold sweep with delicate patterns on fabrics and wallpaper and slyly echoing the author's suggestion that, even given the clear need, the boys are not entirely willing to do their bit. An attractive book that balances a period setting and a contemporary concern with brisk good humor.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1992
Publisher: Knopf