Saturday, May 12, 2007

We Help Mommy - It's Mother's Day

"We Help Mommy" by Jean Cushman and Eloise Wilkin was one of my favorite books as a kid. Published in 1959, Wilkin's detailed illustrations are true to the spirit of that age's commercial print ads - large scale, crisp and realistic with a palette of pastels and bold reds and blues.

I was attracted to the comforting dailiness and the minutiae of the story - Martha has trouble putting her shirt on and her mother helps her; Martha dries the forks and spoons; Mommy buys the kids a picture book and some cookies at the supermarket. Each drawing is packed with sharp focus details - a row of geraniums sits in a window sill; a fireplace in their bedroom is arched with fluted curves; the kitchen floor is black with red and green confetti.

In the 1970s, animal characters and loose, scribbly illustrations dominated children's literature, so the realism must have been refreshing to me. And of course it was about Mommy, my favorite person in the world.

Now, I like the book not only out nostalgia, but because I hope it will inspire the boys to feel more responsibility for their role in our household. Look I can dress myself! May I please sweep the floor? I'll clean the toilet Mom. I'm serving you breakfast in bed Mommy. Asher is actually very motivated to learn how to do all cleaning right now. It must be developmental.

Happy Mother's Day to my Mommy! I love you.

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