BEFORE I WAS YOUR MOTHER

Kathryn Lasky, Author, LeUyen Pham, Illustrator
Kathryn Lasky, Author, LeUyen Pham, Illustrator , illus. by LeUyen Pham. Harcourt $16 (40p) ISBN 978-0-15-201464-3
Reviewed on: 01/27/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Paperback - 40 pages - 978-0-15-205842-5
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"You know," says a woman, as she peers over her reading glasses with mock solemnity at her young daughter, "I wasn't always your mother." So begins this well-pitched proof that no mother was born yesterday. Subtly connecting the past and the present, Lasky's (Lunch Bunnies; She's Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head!) baby-boomer narrator delivers a series of freewheeling reminiscences about best friends and pets, games and mischief, and beloved possessions. "I wasn't always your mother, who carries a purse full of bills to pay and wears shoes that won't hurt my feet," says Mother. "Once I was a little girl, who carried secret stuff in a green velvet bag and wanted a pair of bright red patent-leather shoes more than anything." Pham (Whose Shoes?) tints watercolor depictions of the mother's vignettes in sepia, but she understands that her readers may have little interest in the evocation of an era, and keeps a sharp focus on action. When Mother recalls fighting with her brother over a birthday cake's frosting roses, Pham frames the composition at a child's height and zeroes in on the siblings' self-righteous stances. Also acknowledging that the audience will ultimately want to know "What's in it for me?" Lasky's answer is just right: even as a girl, the mother "dreamed of having her own little girl to love." Ages 3-7. (Apr.)

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