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Saturday, June 30, 2012

take your mama to work today, written by Amy Reichert and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. Atheneum, Simon & Schuster. 2012. $18.99 ages 5 and up

"Sharpen your pencils
and put them in your desk, or in a pencil cup, or line them up, or spell your name with them. Putting one behind your ear lets people know you are serious about your job. As soon as you make a name tag, you are officially ready to work."

Speaking of mamas, as we were in the previous post, here's another story about mothers and their children. Violet's babysitter is sick; Violet and her mama will be spending the day together at her mother's work. You can imagine the possibilities, can't you?

What delight there is in a child's world! Nothing seems impossible, everyone is deemed friendly and in need of assistance, mundane tasks take on new meaning and all help is given with joy and naivete. Then, there are the adults. Their view of that same world is quite often contrary to a child's view. As Violet takes on the role of  'professional Mama's office helper', she enchants and exhausts the rest of the staff. She has come prepared and there is nothing she won't tackle.

Violet is full of confidence as she and her mom approach their day together. She knows that 'Grown-ups love it when kids push elevator buttons for them' and that no one will feel more welcomed than she will by all of the people who work with her mom. There is candy for the taking, help with the copier, pictures to be taken, advice to give the boss...all the while basking in the knowledge that
'Grown-ups love it when kids visit the office- they'll treat you just like a movie star!"

The adoring and inviting looks of her mother's co-workers soon lose some of their lustre. Answering phone calls without pressing the hold button, helping with new worker interviews, sorting the mail, playing chair tag during a 'power lunch' result in keeping a close watch on the fish, taking time to create a new business card, and other routine tasks that often lead to hilarity:

"Here's another important tip -


Everyone shows great patience as the day wears down. Violet remains upbeat and confident. Mama, while exasperated at times, never voices it to her daughter. The day ends in the elevator, mother and daughter in a warm and gentle embrace.

Alexandra Boiger creates a secondary story with her wonderful pencil and mixed media artwork. Our attention is firmly centered on mother and child as they arrive at work and go through thier day. Co-workers, while important to the action, remain in the background. Each page brings new delights and gentle humor as the nattily dressed Violet plays her role in the office adminstrivia of the day. The design changes and the varying perspectives add interest at every turn of the page. Bravo!

It's been a while since these two artists have created such wonder (While Mama Had A Quick Little Chat, 2005). I can only hope it won't be a long wait for the next one.

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