CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 20. . . .January 24, 2014
When Mama Goes to Work, written by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch and illustrated by Jessica Phillips, is a sweet book for young children, one that introduces them to the idea of a working mother. The story features a diverse collection of mothers and their children as they go through a typical working day, from getting ready for the day, to reading stories at bedtime. Since children sometimes suffer from separation anxiety once a mother goes back to work after being home for a while, it is important that a book about working mothers keeps the topic upbeat for children. Forchuk Skrypuch and Phillips do a great job keeping the topic light for a young child.
Since this is a book that would appeal to younger children, the focus is not on a sequential plot, but rather a repetition that seems designed to calm a child. The repetition is particularly strong because young children can begin to see patterns between their day at daycare or school and what their mother does at work. The wording emphasises how much a mother loves and thinks of her child during the day and is very happy and positive. The repetition of “Mama smiles” and “I smile” is a fantastic way to reinforce the idea of a cheerful separation.
The illustrations are especially striking in this book The colours are vibrant with clear lines and varied scenes. This makes When Mama Goes to Work a great language learning tool for really young children. Parents or caregivers can read this book to a young child and point out common items in order to form connections with the child and to increase vocabulary skills. With slightly older children, the illustrations can be used to create personalized stories to which children can connect. Jessica Phillips does a wonderful job of creating cheery images that help keep the book positive since many children suffer from separation anxiety when a mother goes/returns to work.
Another strong feature about this story is the diversity that is featured in both the illustrations and the language. Diversity is expressed through ethnicity and occupations. This book expresses the various occupations available to a woman from doctor and business woman to construction worker. Even the front cover displays this variety well.
Overall, When Mama Goes to Work is a well-written, well-illustrated book for young children. School-aged children may not appreciate this book as they have probably already experienced the issues that young children with working mothers may face. As a working mother with young children myself, I found this to be a great book to share. It opened up a dialogue with my son about what I do when I work and how much I miss him. This book would make a great addition to any children’s collection and could work well in a group story-time session with related activities and discussion for toddlers and pre-schoolers.
Rhiannon Jones is a health librarian at the University of Calgary. In her spare time, she reads and re-reads books to her three children who teach her that something new can be gleaned from multiple tellings.
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