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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Is Mommy? Words by Victoria Chang and pictures by Marla Frazee. Beach Lane, Simon & Schuster. 2015. $19.99 ages 2 and up

"Is mommy nice ...

or mean?


Is mommy fun ...

or boring?


If you live with a toddler who is talking, you will know that honesty is their best policy. They have not yet figured out another way to answer questions put to them. It takes growth and a certain amount of tact to give the answers that people are looking to hear. I wonder why we are so concerned with their honest replies. Do we really think that they are being impolite and inconsiderate of others' feelings? What are we doing when we put our adult expectations on their responses?

Luckily for readers of this wonderful book, Victoria Chang took her daughter's response to heart and imagined a book that would give an honest voice to a bevy of toddlers who are asked by an unknown narrator to talk about their mommies. It could as easily be their daddies, their grandparents, their pets. They want to have a voice. I could tell you stories from friends whose children and grandchildren have been brutally honest (from their perspective at that point in time) when considering offers of help or dealing with the advice of those whose lives they are sharing. Here are two: When Papa was not available to help E with her project, Nana suggested she  might be able to provide the needed help to which three-year-old E answered, "No thanks, I want someone I like to help me."  And another ... when a different Nana's suggestion was not particularly popular, she was reminded by E that she was a 'tyrannical despot'! Ah, kids! You have to LOVE them!!

Gosh, I could go on and on. It is no surprise then when this small group of toddlers are asked questions about their mommies that they answer in all honesty! Is she tall ... or short? As the toddler thinks seriously on how Mommy looks when both, the preferred answer is SHORT! Imagine the power she would hold in towering over her mother.

The answers are cheeky, the reasons for them are evident in Marla Frazee's droll depictions of what each child is thinking. I love the enormous speech bubbles which encourage a very loud voice when reading it with a young one. They will be delighted, as you will be to each firm response.

Get your hands on this book and meet a troupe of toddlers whose clothing, hair styles and gleeful answers to the questions posed endear them to everyone who reads their story. If you are going to take their responses too seriously, I would venture to guess you have forgotten what your children were like at this age, or considered it blatantly disrespectful when they spoke their minds. All they are really doing is telling their truth! After all, which of us is perfect?

Turn your sense of humor up and you will joyfully answer the call to read it again and again!

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