BEFORE I WAS YOUR MOTHER

A delicious tale with loads of girl appeal is satisfying for mothers and daughters (and brothers) alike. A dark-haired, freckle-faced mom tells her blonde daughter how, before she was her mother, she had a best friend named Ruby, a dog named Eileen, and a mom who could suspend fruit in Jell-O. She and Ruby loved to make noise, singing while they skated down the sidewalk, or tap-dancing on garbage can lids. And she loved shoes, even wearing her favorite cowboy boots to cousin Sylvia’s wedding. “I wasn’t always your mother,” letting her eat frosting roses off her birthday cake. When Mom was a girl, she told her brother that flowers were for girls so that she could eat the frosting roses off his birthday cake. She named her doll and her teddy bear and her velvet seal Katie, but now, “I am your mother, and you are my only Katie.” Pham (Which Hat Is That?, 2002, etc.), whose rich, homey watercolors are as gemütlich as could be, has done wonderful things with the faces. Readers can see that honey-haired Katie closely resembles her golden-haired grandmother, and that all three generations have the same wide, bowed mouth. Mom-as-a-kid wears braids, as does her best friend Ruby, who is black, and the contrasts and likenesses between those two girls are adorable. Love, comfort, and joy spill from these pages in sweet waves. It will no doubt inspire lots of similar stories in its readers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-15-201464-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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