And the girl grew...into a mother
At a time when little girls were made of sugars and spice and all things nice, Grandmas were equally delicious and cuddly with rosy cheeks but poor mums - particularly step-mothers - seemed to get a bad press. Depicted as ever-busy, sweating over the stove, tired or just downright mean.
Yes, we mums are busy spinning plates on our finger tips and not always delivering them to the table with the elegant grace of Disney's Cinderella carrying multiple breakfast trays down the hall. But, we are - though we may forget to value it in ourselves - also:
It's so easy to forget all the positives amid the challenges of parenting. To reflect on the fun times when the role of disciplinarian seemed to dominate more time in the day. We don't need to be everything in every moment. But, treasuring the positive moments is a must and promoting not shaming our role is so important too.
Here's five books we love that show mothers in a beautiful light:
The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
If ever there was a book that showed a Mother's commitment and investment, this is it. I adore the way that Mummy looks at the Tiger, engages unquestioningly in Sophie's imaginative play and shares every food offering in the house with such generosity. Of course, she may have been terrified for her life but she never shows it! Sophie's gentle treatment of the Tiger - whether you believe him to be real or imaginary - is a beautiful reflection of her mummy's calm spirit. And, did you know, that the book came about because Judith Kerr used to tell the story to her children. As it was their most requested and favourite, she took the time when they were at school to turn it into a picture book, wherein it became the classic that we know and love today.
The Paper Dolls written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Rebecca Cobb
Another wonderful, inspiring mummy who invests in her daughter's play is the 'nice mother' from Julia Donaldson's wonderfully imaginative adventure. This little girl learns imaginative role play and creativity from her mummy who teaches, encourages and joins in with her activities as they go about their day. We see the breakfast dish, the oven glove and even clues as to the stories they read together (have you spotted the picture on the honey jar?) integrated into the role play world of the Paper Dolls. And, of course, this little girl treasures these memories and grows 'into a mother who helped her own little girl make some paper dolls'.
The Blue Giant by Katie Cottle
Meera’s mum is another super role model who shares in her daughter’s adventure. In Katie Cottle’s beautiful ocean clean-up story, the pair are approached by The Blue Giant asking for help with all the rubbish that is contaminating the ocean and causing danger to it’s inhabitants. Most brilliantly, we see Meera and her mum working as a team as they go about the task. They are presented through the story as mother and daughter, friends and workmates, comfortable in each other’s company at every turn. What a great example of how we are all capable of getting involved no matter what age we are!
Love written by Corrinne Averiss and illustrated Kirsti Beautyman
Kirsti Beautyman’s portrait of a mother and daughter is a gift to today’s world. As well as echoing the call for diversity in picture books, Tess’ Mum is a wonderful representative of mothers today. She’s relaxed and informal in her slouchy clothes, converse and off the shoulder top revealing her tattoos and flattering her beautiful, natural shape. She is loving, warm, affectionate and kind but she is also... late! This perfect imperfection is Corrinne Averiss’ final flourish that enables the most beautiful act of all: a mum who models honesty and truth. In Mum’s apology to Tess she authentically demonstrates how to be open, which Tess reflects in her confession, giving voice to the difficult feelings she has been struggling with. It is this honesty that enables their true connection, where Mum can fix things and love can truly heal and ‘wrap them in a big bundle’. There are a final few copies of this beautiful hardback available in our shop.
The Ugly Five written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Julia Donaldson’s unconventional safari exploration is a celebration of the unique and unusual features that make these wild creatures so wonderfully ugly - a word that they could not be more proud to own.
We love to rap the rhythmical verses in a host of grizzly voices, especially the finale where the young creatures sing out their love for their mothers and all the things they love about them.
So mums, remember: You don't have to do it all or to be anything at all. Just being you makes you special. Warts and all! ‘“You’re kind and you’re cuddly, you’re brave and you’re strong”’ - through the eyes of a child, you, mummy are everything.
What other encouraging depictions of mums have you found and enjoyed? Drop a note in the comments below So we can all enjoy and celebrate them too.
Happy reading and happy mother's day!