When we first began the 101 Picture Book Challenge in April 2018, the committee, who picked the entire list of titles, started with their favorite ones and wrote their first blog post from a particular one selected. I picked two books that are my all-time favorite reads, “Are you My Mother” by P.D. Eastman (c1960) and “Corduroy” by Don Freeman (c1968). They are both my favorites because they are the first books I remember having in my room for bedtime reading. But at the time I had to pick one book, so I chose, “Corduroy” as my blog post. And I stated: “I’ll review ‘Are You My Mother’ in a later post.” Well, here is that later post.
“Are You My Mother?” is simple in format, text, tone and style. A mother bird sits on a yellow egg, on a nest, on one leafy branch. The egg jumps. The mother knows the baby bird will be very hungry when it hatches, so she flies off to find food. As soon as she leaves however, the baby hatches out of the egg. And from then on, that baby is put into a search scenario trying to find its mother, because that curious little bird fell out of the nest and right into life. The little bird asks the only question a little bird really needs to know, “Are you my mother?” Not ever having seen her, he wanders across the pages asking different animals and objects if they are his mother. He is a determined soul, until he finds a different type of animal, who knows just where he belongs. “Are You My Mother?” tells us what it is to be part of family; to be part of a community, or not; and to be open to finding help where we can, even from a very special “Snort.” The white of the pages, the clear, crisp pencil drawings with muted colored tones makes each next step in the little birds search more appealing and mysterious with each turn of the next page. The joy of having family, of the love we share for each other make this one of the very best “coming home” stories I know.
The committee has had some pushback for picking “classics” for the 101 PB Challenge, because they are sometimes seen as “old.” I say that is okay, because this title will remain the classic it is whether on future TLCPL 101 PB Challenges or not. It is timeless on so many levels. And this is reflected in how many mothers, fathers, and caregivers have let all of us know how much they enjoy remembering and rediscovering these titles.
The joy I had as a little girl reading it again and again with my mother at bedtime, and the joy it brings to me now has shaped how I read to others. It is why I am so privileged to be a Children’s Librarian; to encourage this joy of reading in children. “Are You My Mother?” is a precious experience to share with anyone.
A lonely little bird named Choco goes in search of a mother.
What is the 101 Picture Book Challenge?
The 101 Picture Book Challenge is for anyone at any age. Librarians hand picked the titles on the list which includes classics, new titles and everything in between.
To get started, register online. You can track your progress online or if you prefer a paper log booklet, pick one up at your neighborhood Library. The books are organized into categories but you can read the books in any order and at your own pace. When you read all 101 titles, you earn a free picture book (while supplies last).
This is the latest in a series of blog posts exploring some of the things we love about these books.