This is my standard disclaimer that I just had a baby so am a little out of it. Here's another glimpse into what's going on around these parts.
I want to share my new favorite book for reading with Mikko: Mama, Do You Love Me? — by Barbara M. Joosse & illustrated by Barbara Lavallee.
I checked it out in my big-sibling book frenzy. I probably have two or three more posts' worth of reviews to share, incidentally, and I initially included my notes to this book within my drafts. On reflection, though, I had to admit: This book is not a big-sibling book at all. Oh, I mean, it can be, and for my purposes it's functioning that way. But there is no mention of a sibling within its pages — it's just about a daughter testing out, in vivid imagination, the limits of her mother's love — and finding out there are no limits.
And, seriously, just typing that last part of the sentence made me well up. This book is so happy-sappy-making, but in the good way: the funny, charming, truthful way.
The little girl in the story challenges her mother with a series of inquiries about what might make her mother stop loving her, and the mama consistently replies that she would love her, no matter what. It's set in the Alaskan Arctic and illustrated in a bright and whimsical Inuit style so is quite unique and gorgeous, and the text is a pleasure to read:
Mama, what if I carried our eggs—
our ptarmigan eggs!—
and I tried to be careful,
and I tried to walk slowly,
but I fell
and the eggs broke?
Then I would be sorry.
I would love you.
What if I put salmon
in your parka,
ermine in your mittens,
and lemmings in
Then I would be angry.
… But still,
I would love you.
I love the calm and loving response of the mama to every prompting of her daughter, and I love any book that lets me read the word "mukluks" out loud.
As far as finding a home with attachment parents, the attitude and connection of the mother and child are very attachment-oriented and correspond well with gentle discipline. The mother admits what her emotions would be without attaching any blame or shame to them. I think this would be a good book for any parent-child pair, but would work particularly well if there's any turmoil or limits-pushing in the relationship, as when there's been a new birth, to reassure both the parent and the child.
It's also a very natural setting, with local animals and with the mother busy at work in many of the pictures taking care of her home in a traditional way. My favorite aspect, though, is that the girl is carrying her doll around in her hood, just like a baby in an amautik.
The book is written and illustrated, as far as I can determine from head shots and bios, by two (admittedly delightful) white ladies. That said, I appreciate that the text and art reflect Inuit/Eskimo culture. Barbara Joosse has put out companion books as well. In Papa, Do You Love Me? a Maasai father reassures his young son using the language and experiences of the Serengeti. And Grandma Calls Me Beautiful is set in Hawaii.
Just a note: The hardcover version I got from the library has a nice glossary in the back that defines all the Alaskan terms. A reviewer on Amazon noted that the board book is missing the glossary, if that's important to you or your kids.
In case you think all is harmony in big-sibling-land, writing this review has been an adventure in interruptions and frustrations and putting off a newly four-year-old nummies monopolizer. (There's milk again, after all — it's all I can do to get him to take breaks for solid food — or to let me!) A calm and loving book like this is as much for me as it is for Mikko — to remind me that even if he turned into a polar bear (in my mind),
I would be
and very scared.
inside the bear,
you would be you,
and I would love you.
I will love you,
forever and for always,
because you are
my Dear One.