A mother’s rhymes enumerate the many, varied (sometimes bewildering, sometimes beatific) ways her toddler tot has altered her life.
Looking back she wonders at how she never knew, “that our house could get this messy and LOUD! / Or that you’d be so silly, and giggly, and splashy, and CRASHY!” Bold, oversized lettering emphasizes already extremely effective onomatopoeic language that runs throughout, demonstrating how sounds resonate and dominate in a toddler’s home. McDonnell’s reliably astute ink, brush, and pen illustrations punctuate these rhymes with spirited freeze frames of mother’s mishaps (tub water in the eye, a block underfoot) and gleeful moments of surprise (unexpected fairy wings, glittery artwork, park frolics). Mommy’s red-rosebud mouth gapes, her eyes widen to oversized ovals, and miraculously her buttercup-blonde flip hairdo never changes shape! While perhaps a nod to the timelessness of a mother’s experience with her first baby, the mid-20th-century motif (down to mother’s black cigarette pants and white oxford shirt) and simple, straightforward rhymes leave this picture book feeling dated. One senses that just beyond the washes of gentle blues, pinks, and yellows that fill the background of each spread, just beyond the gauzy ether that spotlights these two familiar cartoonish caricatures, modern mothering scenes tell the same story, sharply, with poignancy—and through a whole spectrum of colors and faces.
It’s sweet, but it lacks the freshness that would make it stand out. (Picture book. 2-4)