Sunday, September 23, 2007

When Mum Was Little

Today I bring you When Mum Was Little written and illustrated by Mini Goss. This picture book comes courtesy of Australia. Kane/Miller is the American publisher; it was published in 2004.

As you can see from this bright cover, When Mum Was Little takes the young readers back to the psychedelic sixties--1969 to be precise. (Who knew that I could spell psychedelic without looking it up?) A little girl is asking her mother to tell her stories about when she was a little girl. And through words and pictures, today's young readers find out about this 'groovy' time. The text begins, My mum wasn't always a mum. She was little once, just like us. That was in the olden days. Things were different then. The picture shows a mom with three children gathered near. Closer observation of the illustrations show that this is a special occasion--the mother is turning thirty-nine. (For the record, at my house it doesn't take a birthday for "tell me a story about when you were...." to get started!) What are some of things the mom remembers and shares with her children? Roller skates, the moon walk, going to the hairdresser with her mom and grandmother, watching her mother get dressed to go out, the birth of her baby sister, going to the beach, buying candy when it was cheap, etc. The book ends with the mother telling her children that for really interesting stories they should ask their grandmother what life was like when she was a little girl. And I think the illustrations show a pause. Like a pause before a really long story. The grandmother has a look on her face like she is getting ready to talk, talk, talk!

What do I love about When Mum Was Little? Well, though it's set in Australia. I think it rings true for any time and place. I think it is natural for children to want to hear stories about when their parents were children. Stories about their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Growing up--and even to this day--there is nothing I like better than listening to family stories. "Tell me about the day I was born...." "Tell me about what you used to do...." I love to hear my mother talk about her childhood. Especially I love to hear about what she did when she went to visit her grandma! I also love to hear her tell stories on her brothers and sister! I think When Mum Was Little shows positive family interactions and a healthy love for family traditions. It will be easy to transition from reading this aloud to creating your own family story time. While the books intended age group is probably too small for any large-scale family tree/family history project. The sharing of simple stories, looking at photographs together, etc. would be quite appropriate. Especially if the parent could share pictures of what they looked like when they were the child's age!

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