cover image MAMA'S COMING HOME


Kate Banks, , illus. by Tomek Bogacki. . FSG/Foster, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-34747-5

This window into the parallel domestic and working worlds of two busy parents provides an upbeat look at contemporary life. As Mama closes up her pet shop and makes her way home through the hectic city, navigating the subway and storm-drenched sidewalks, Papa rolls the dough for pizza, feeds the baby, sidesteps the pets and negotiates with the boys to do their chores. The text rolls across the bottom of the page in gentle waves (the refrain "Mama's coming home" appears in larger, bolder font), complementing the quirky perspectives, slants and tilts in illustrations by Bogacki (previously paired with Banks for The Turtle and the Hippopotamus). The father's household sphere occupies the left page of each spread, the mother's trek the right; in the conclusion, the two sides merge around the dinner table. Bogacki's family members have a doll-like appeal, with bright orange blotches on their cheeks, dots for eyes and blue or orange hair that stands on end like short pieces of yarn. Banks's verse is not always precise ("Boys have got the table made./ Laid with plates and silverware") but for the most part, her cheerful non sequiturs capture the amusing chaos of family life ("Boys are picking up their toys./ The cat is licking doggy's ears./ Footsteps hurry up the walk./ Mama's coming home"). Together Banks and Bogacki not only acknowledge the hard work involved in end-of-the-day routines, but recreate the pleasures of the payoff as a family comes together for dinner. Ages 3-6. (Mar.)