Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Mums matter

I'm just having a bit of fun on my blog this week, just being me.  It will be interesting to see if anyone actually reads it, and if they do, please leave a comment below to prove it (Ta).  It's just a bit of an experiment..even if it's just a comment, "I read your blog", I would appreciate it :)

I am loving these new picture books for Mothers' Day this year.  

Who doesn't love Nick Bland? Published in 2015, Some Mums is a joyful celebration of mothers and their individuality.  (They are actually my own words even though they sound like they come off a Hallmark card!!) Some Mums is a terrific mentor text for studying adjectives to describe qualities and characteristics of mothers and also for rhyming words.  The illustrations are gorgeous and support visual literacy, adding meaning to the text.  This lends itself so well to the children describing the qualities and characteristics that make their own mums unique and special.  Free teaching notes for Some Mums are available here and Reading Time provides a synopsis of the book here.

The publisher's description states:
"Some mums are graceful and some mums are tough.
Each mum has her own way of being a mum and they are all delightful!
Another instant classic from Nick Bland!"'

Kylie's pink rating:  Minimal use of pink. Mums represented with a variety of individual strengths and characteristics.

I just love Bruce Whatley's illustrations. My Mum's the Best, published in 2015 and written by Rosie Smith is another celebration of what makes mums special.  Bruce Whatley's illustrations are gorgeous and add to the text about that special bond between mums and their young. You can read a review of My Mum's the Best on My Book Corner here or at Kids' Book Review here.
Kylie's pink rating:  Pretty use of pink on cover and no mums with blonde hair in the kitchen cooking :)

Dear Mum, I Love You is a really special book.  In the tradition of The Jolly Postman and Other Such Letters, it includes letters or postcards inside.  Written by Ed Allen and published in 2015, this picture book would be a terrific mentor text for writing in the early years of school, with children writing their own letter, postcard or card to mum for Mothers' Day.   

You can read a review of the book from Reading Time (the Children's Book Council) here, or by clicking on the image below.  I am really liking this title as a picture book that has a lot of curriculum potential as a learning resource in schools.  Each double page spread features a different animal mother and baby and a letter written for their mum. The illustrations by Simon Williams are just gorgeous.  I love the way the letter from the chameleon is written in a range of changing colours - very clever and lends itself so well to inferring.  

This picture book is not cheesy.  It is authentic and has a depth of potential as a learning resource in so many different ways, including learning about animal mothers and their babies and letter writing.  Have a read of an activity Melissa from Honey Bee Books organised after sharing this picture book. This is sure to be a picture book that is read over and over again and used time and again for real learning purposes in classrooms each year, that goes beyond making pink love heart cards...in fact, this is an interesting blog post I am currently reading that you might like to ponder: What typical preschool crafts are a total waste of time.
Pink rating:  Limited use of pink on cover only.  Great teaching potential.

All this pink, was making me think...I was looking for an "out-of-the-box" picture book where Mums are represented in different ways, other than through pink backgrounds, images and cleaning/cooking stereotypes.  

With regard to teaching potential, I am loving My Mum Says the Strangest Things by Katrina Germein, illustrated by Tom Jellett and published by Black Dog Books (2016).  This is such a fantastic picture book for teaching idioms and those sayings that all of our mums have that have become classics over the years.  Oh look, the author has a Facebook Page - I'll just hop over and "like" that.  All the authors and illustrators in this blog post probably have FB and twitter etc...If you know their links, please share in the comments below as I really do need to expand my groupie circles :)  

Okay, back to My Mum Says the Strangest Things which has so many teachable opportunities...The son shares some of his mother's sayings (idioms) which leaves the reader pondering about their literal meanings.  Students could reflect on the unique sayings their own mothers have.
 Kids Book Review interviews the author here.  That is such a good blog by the way - kindred spirits :)  Free teaching notes for My Mum Says the Strangest Things are available here.  You can also read an interview with the author here or view a video preview on the author's website here.
Pink rating:  Was there pink in there?  Great teaching potential.

Supermum and My Mum is a Supermum (also published in 2016) would make terrific companion texts for Mother's Day in the classroom. A time-release vimeo of Supermum is available here that shows how the cover illustration was created. This would be useful within the visual arts and design technology curriculum areas. My Mum has X-Ray vision would be an excellent companion text with My Mum is a Supermum as they have similar themes.  Scholastic's blurb about  Supermum reads: 
My mum has secret superpowers,
she can do amazing things..."
Superheroes have all kinds of special powers. They are super clever, super brave, super kind and super fun. And so are mums!

What amazing superpowers does your SUPERMUM have?

Supermum lends itself beautifully to writing and children writing about their own mum's superpowers or to create a "Super Mum" card for Mothers' Day.  
Pink rating:  Minimal use of pink. Good teaching potential for descriptions.

I imagine there will be plenty of blog posts in the lead up to Mother's Day with links to crafts, so I will cut to the chase and just share the link to my pinterest board for Mother's Day where I have pinned plenty of ideas for home and school.

I was all excited when I came across The Messy Mother's Day in my search for alternative representations of mums in picture books. I thought I had finally a picture book about Mums that I could relate to, but it wasn't about Mum being messy (I like to call it "creative" by the way) but rather about the mess kids make when they are doing something special for mum for Mother's Day :)

On that train of thought, I am liking the sound of this new picture book by Emily Gravett (click on the image) about the perils of overzealous neatness and being too tidy :)  You can never be too careful, I say!

I was looking for a picture book that was about real mums who aren't all pink, pretty and perfect :)

And then I found it...My Hippie Grandmother - I wonder if there is one about mums? I also wonder if there is a version about mothers who are addicted to picture books or have a picture book obsession?  I am loving this description of the book on Amazon (and yes I bought it  and I wasn't disappointed):
An enthusiastic ode to free spirits of all generations. (You're speaking to me sister!)
"Who says grandmothers have to wear tidy buns and be relegated to rocking chairs? In lilting rhyme and sunny psychedelic colors, Reeve Lindbergh and Abby Carter introduce the most vibrant, tie-dyed grandmother ever to dance her way across a picture book - together with her cat named Woodstock, her guitar-strumming boyfriend, her organic garden, and her very proud granddaughter. Flower power forever!"

I am suddenly feeling the need to do some composting, or companion gardening, or picking up those African drums or red uke I bought a couple of years ago and haven't learnt to play yet :)  Kelly, if you are reading this, you are way ahead of me in the uke department :)

Now for older kids...this is way beyond the pink factor :) Grannies are mums too and for younger children, Our Granny is a classic.  Our Granny is another picture book that is a terrific mentor text for teaching adjectives to describe grannies, to value difference and the illustrations are devine (as well as very funny!). 

Gansta Granny sounds like a fun read for children aged 10+. You can read a review of it by Kids' Book Review here. It is written by David Walliams who is part of the Little Britain comedy team.  The review states that this book, "has its thoughtful moments, with some interesting insights into parental expectations, the generation gap and the very special bond that can exist between grandparents and their grandchildren."

My Little Bookcase provides a list of titles with brief reviews about grannies here.  I am especially liking the sound of the picture book Mind Your Gramma by Yvonne Morrison (ching, ching = ordered!), who, by the way, has published some awesome picture books recently that are spot on for teaching critical literacy...watch this space as I will blog about them soon...

Here's a title I think I can relate to The Important Things (although I don't have this one) but this sounds like my kind of Mothers' Day picture book, that I think other single mums who have been mum, dad, best friend and worst enemy might also relate to (although I haven't read the text, I am very interested!). The publisher's description states:
The Important Things is the story of Christopher and his mother. Christopher’s mother does everything, for his father has faded from their lives. When they give away a box of his father’s old things, a series of events takes place to reveal the difference in which Christopher and his mother deal with the absent father.

And not a hint of pink in sight so far (except for her skirt on the cover).  So, I needed to investigate further...Oh looky looky, the author, Peter Carnavas grew up in Brisbane, so he is a Queensland boy (I knew I was going to connect to this text) and he went to Runcorn, Currimundi and Caloundra schools for those reading who are a little bit local.  In high school he had long hair and could play the guitar...and he also likes mangoes...hang on, back to the book :)  Ha ha.  

The author, Peter Carnavas, is a teacher (albeit retired, I think, working full-time as an author/illustrator).  Wouldn't it be bizarre if he read my blog?! I don't think many people read my blog anyway, so it's just an extended conversation with myself really :)  I wonder why he would write a picture book about a single mum and her child when he's married with kids? Hmm...I guess other children's authors write about animals and they are not animals!  Ha ha ha - you should see the images on Peter's blog home page - they remind me a bit of Mr McGee.  Oh goodness, now I am a bit embarrassed - look at all these picture books he has authored...I have so many of them in my collection!  I wonder if he would do a guest post on my blog?  Watch this space :)  

Oh dear, I have stepped into dangerous, "interrogating texts" type territory here with this review of My Beautiful Mommy.  This is not the alternative, representative example I was thinking of when I was searching for picture books that represent mothers in different ways in children's literature.  My goodness, do we really need to expose little children to these adult concepts (i.e. plastic surgery and self-image)?  This reminds me of a levelled reader we removed years ago that was about a married couple who were separated and when the children went to visit Daddy it was all about Mummy breaking her diet and how many donuts Mummy ate!  There were parent complaints and the book was removed from the guided reading and home reading collections.

My Little Bookcase shares reviews of other picture books about mums for Mother's Day here.  My Book Corner also reviews picture books for Mothers' Day here.
The lyrics to a Mother's Day song called My Mum can be found here.

By the way, if you read this far and are wondering what Kylie's pink rating is - it's my original pink, cheesiness, stereotype analysis/reflection on how mothers are positioned or represented in titles to do with Mothers' Day.

There are so many wonderful choices to make Mothers' Day this year really special - and representative of difference - a celebration of all mums wherever they are and whatever they do!  I would be really interested in reading about picture books that represent mothers from different cultural backgrounds in authentic contexts.  If you know of any, please leave a comment below with the title/s.

Before you go, check out the 2016 CBCA notables book lists here.

If you love picture books as much as I do, you may consider joining our new FB page: Picturebook Fanatics.  We don't have many members yet as it was only created about a week ago, but it really is a support group for those of us who love picture books, sharing new titles and ideas to use them in the classroom.  Come and join the fun and help get the group active and happening :)

Have a good week everyone!


  1. Thanks for the reviews and links to the teaching notes Kylie. It is a very comprehensive review. I am passionate about finding books that don't represent gender stereotypes and providing rigorous reading activities for emergent readers. This saves so much time. I unashamedly own most of these books!

    1. Hi Bronwyn

      I have been whipping up comprehension resources for some of these titles over the long weekend. I would love to know which is your favourite new picture book in my blog post above, so I can share my new resource with you if I have created one for that title :)

      I shared the link for my comprehension resource for "My mum says the strangest things" in my reply to Neree (below), so I will share the link for my resource for Nick Bland's "Some Mums" here...

      What year level do you teach Bronwyn? I appreciate you commenting on my blog post :)

  2. Ha ha ha - A fellow picture book addict - I love it!! Are you a member of the new picturebook fanatics FB group Bronwyn? It is just a new group. I would love to hear about any other titles in your collection that don't represent gender stereotypes other than the obvious e.g. The Paperbag Princess...I did do a list a few years ago, but do you think I can find that list? It must be under a pile of picture books LOL. I look forward to networking with you further.

  3. Read and appreciated! And Kylie I just bought "My Mum Says The Strangest Things" from Big W for only $10, even more excited to read it to my class now. Thanks

  4. Fantastic Neree!! I just finished making a resource for that one that I literally just uploaded to my TPT store. Would you like a free copy to thank you for reading and commenting on my blog post?

    I really love the new Mother's Day resources that I created this weekend. The one for "My mum says the strangest things" is 60 pages - and not 60 pages of busy work either!!!

    I have reduced the price of it in the lead up to Mother's Day (for a couple of days). I'd love you to let others know about my "hot off the press" new Mother's Day reading comprehension resources as I am clearly a bit stoked about them...naturally, teachers would need a copy of the picture books to make the best use of them :)


    Anyway, thanks for dropping by and leaving a message for me :)