I love this book so very much…
I can read it ten good times.
She represents a child’s experience…
With such cool, catchy rhymes.
Most of the mother-child relationships in the book are clearly representative of an interracial family (even though we don’t see fathers) with children who look racially different from their mothers. Julianne Moore and Meilo So cover the full gamut of children who look racially different from their mothers whether the mothers are East Asian, Subsaharan African, or Dutch with children whose features present as the entire world spectrum of all racial/ethnic features. Meilo So does not just throw kids on the page who are holding hands with mothers—no, her vivid, emotionally realistic, water color illustrations are done with such attention to detail that on one page there is a brown-skinned, gele scarf wearing mother with her pale-skinned, red-haired daughter who the reader can see look exactly alike–like twins except their skin color, height, and weight are different. The “twin” mother and daughter are walking up the stairs as a boy behind them keeps staring at them and a mother holding a child that is like her in every obvious way walks towards them staring at them with a surprised, questioning look on her face. The text that goes along with this illustration speaks of the emotional weight a child faces when her features are just like her mom’s but because of different racial markers people don’t always see their likeness:
“Some people say we look alike
Others wonder: What’s HER name?
I get so upset when they say,
“Why don’t you look the same?””
Finally, this book ends with a celebration of all the universal ways in which a mother and child bond:
“She gives me lots of kisses,
she tucks me in at night,
she laughs at ALL my jokes,
SHE HOLDS ME VERY TIGHT”
With this well-written, fancifully illustrated picture book, Julianne Moore and Meilo So have hit a home run for all readers and definitely for intercultural, multi-lingual and interracial families that also keeps children belonging to single parent households from feeling like outsiders.
Book Review by Omilaju Miranda