Mummies are Marvellous – Mother’s Day Picture Book Reviews

Mother. The person who mothers you, nurtures you, Band-Aids your grazed knees and kisses you to sleep at night; the person who is always there to listen to you, has cuddles to spare, and tugs you back in line when things go askew deserves every ounce of recognition and celebration we can muster. These next few picture books do just that and more. Sit down with your mother, child, or grandchild this Mother’s Day with one of these touching picture books.

Marvellous Mummy by Katie Poli and Giuseppe Poli

Discovering the creative picture book chemistry of a new picture book team is akin to embarking on an exciting new adventure for me. When the team is a husband and wife collaboration, the intrigue doubles. Marvellous Mummy is the first creation of Katie and Giuseppe Poli and manages to tick many of my ideal picture book boxes. It’s bright and breezy in appearance, possesses narrative that is succinct and able to endure the rigors of repeated reading and evokes warmth and identifiable situations that even very small children can recognise and love.

The narrator’s mummy, represented as a capable, caring and sometimes feisty she-elephant, is many things, just like real-life mummies. She is silly and fun and goofy at times. She is not beyond being rambunctious and playful, sneaky and knowing and sometimes grumpy and grouchy, either. However, she is always kind and loving and of course, the best mummy of all because she is yours. Katie’s repeating phraseology and use of strong verbs to emphasise this mummy’s characteristics and engagement with her offspring provide the opportunity for little readers to interact and anticipate her qualities. This prompts them to recognise the same qualities in their own mothers, perhaps encouraging them to search for more.

Giuseppe’s illustrations are playfully exuberant. Each page is awash in pretty pastels creating a soft, gentle mood that is both childlike in appearance yet focuses powerfully on mama elephant and her child. Mummies are not perfect every minute of the day nor are they invincible but they are strong and beautiful and capable in every conceivable way in the eyes of their young children. Marvellous Mummy portrays this simple concept well. A delight to share with pre-schoolers and to remind all those mummies out there how special they are.

New Frontier Publishing May 2018

The Bear in Our Backyard by Emma Middleton and Briony Stewart

This is the second picture book by illustrator turned author, Emma Middleton and follows on from The Lion in Our Living Room. It’s another picture book where unreliable narrative collides joyfully with illustrations that force you to search and discover meaning. In other words, it is a glorious romp of hide and seek for Tom and Tilly where words and pictures do not always match up.

Our two cheeky children are desperate to play with their mum in the backyard but she has warned them to watch out for the bear…in case she’s out there today. Bear is brilliant and fun but may be grumpy if she’s woken from her sleep. The children proceed cautiously, trekking her through the garden, attempting to entice her with sticky sweet treats, terrified they’ll wake her. And they do! Happily, their big, brown bear, now fully rested, is raring and roaring to play.  She twirls and whirls with them until teatime then makes a lumbering departure but the children don’t despair because they know her love for them is strong enough and warm enough to share … even with a new, tiny baby bear.

Middleton’s prose is lilting and merry, enchanting readers all the way to the surprise ending. Gentle rhyme maintains the musical quality of this story along with an enticing air of mystery and expectation. Stewart’s endearing illustrations engulf each page like a giant bear hug and cleverly give the illusion of a heavily pregnant mama as a big old brown bear. I especially adore the many little acknowledgements of the former book and its Lion character (aka Tom and Tilly’s dad) secreted throughout.

Witty, clever and oozing with big-hearted affection, The Bear in Our Backyard is a definite winner to share with your kids especially if expecting a new baby bear into your family.

Affirm Press April 2018

My Mum is a Magician by Damon Young and Peter Carnavas

Ace picture book partners, Young and Carnavas, hook up again in the fifth book of the immensely popular…My family member is a … series. This time the spotlight is on Mum in all her cape-touting, big-haired glory. It follows the same premise of the former books like, My Nanna is a Ninja, examining all the various zany, kooky, common-placed things that other mothers get up to, but highlights the narrator’s magical mum and her amazing abilities like pulling piglets out of hats, making cards vanish, and casting secret spells.

The most brilliant thing about this book and is predecessors,  apart from Carnavas’s indescribable illustrations that contain more nutty humour than a block of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut, is its ability to showcase a whole community of diverse cultures, behaviours and beliefs in a way that is 100% connectable with youngsters not to mention laugh-out-loud comical.

Full on fun with mum and utterly spellbinding…what could be more magical than a bedroom that glows! (I’m staying up tonight to relive that page again). Celebrate your mum’s magical attributes with this captivating picture book.

UQP April 2018

Fantastically Great Women Who Made History by Kate Pankhurst

This book isn’t your average illustrated homage to notable humans of the female persuasion. It focuses on a selection of rather more oblique, less well-known women who have nonetheless made remarkable inroads on history. Boudicca, Pocahontas and Mary Shelly may spark recognition but did you now Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to ever be awarded a degree in medicine? Are you aware that an English woman named, Ada Lovelace inadvertently was the world’s first computer programmer…a century before the first computer was even built!

Like its predecessor, …Women Who Changed the World, …Women Who Made History celebrates inspirational women who in some way left their mark on the world in which we live. Their talent, ingenuity, tenacity and refusal to ever give up not only etched their names forever into history, but make for a vibrant collection of female role models, both young boys and girls can admire and learn from. Punchy narration teamed with vivacious, detailed illustrations, makes this non-fiction picture book a gem to own. Great for primary aged readers.

Bloomsbury Publishing March 2018

Happy Mother’s Day!

Published by

Dimity Powell

Dimity Powell likes to fill every spare moment with words. She writes and reviews stories exclusively for kids and is the Managing Editor for Kids’ Book Review. Her word webs appear in anthologies, school magazines, junior novels, as creative digital content, and picture books - you'll find them all here at Boomerang Books. Dimity is a useless tweeter, sensational pasta maker and semi-professional chook wrangler. She believes picture books are food for the soul and should be consumed at least 10 times a week.

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