Flawed Dogs ) lets readers know what mothers are for: general self-sacrifice. Towhe"/>

Mars Needs Moms!

Berkeley Breathed, Author, Berkeley Breathed, Illustrator . Philomel $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-24736-1

In this excessive extraterrestrial fantasy, more painful than funny, Breathed (Flawed Dogs ) lets readers know what mothers are for: general self-sacrifice. Towheaded hero Milo, a mischief-maker, perceives mothers as "bellowing broccoli bullies and carrot-cuddling cuckoos." Yet when Milo awakens to find Martians kidnapping his mother, he instinctively leaps aboard their ship. On the red planet, the stowaway steps outside to see an enormous Chrysler minivan loaded with aliens. Martians are keen on human females because "They needed driving to soccer!... Plus cooking and cleaning and dressing and packing lunches and bandaging boo-boos!" Milo's mother never gets to provide these services, however, since her astonished son tumbles down the spaceship stairs and breaks his bell-jar-shaped oxygen helmet. She places her own helmet on his head, feasts her loving eyes upon Milo and collapses from lack of air. Milo must rescue her in return. Breathed mockingly depicts children's love/hate relationships to disciplinarians; he matches his hyperbolic humor with distorted caricatures in radioactive hues. Milo's mother initially appears monstrous, with clotted hair, dangling curlers and an ax-murderer's slouching silhouette, but she radiates shimmering light when she saves Milo's life. On the back cover, Martians (toting a big net) wistfully gaze at gallery portraits of mothers (including Whistler's) but comedy doesn't undo the backward equation of women and domesticity. Ages 4-up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/26/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
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