Authored by: Geetu Navani
Guest blogger Geetu Navani is back, and this time it’s with a book review. Mums Don’t Get Sick is not just about an interesting title. At a deeper level, this book is about defying notions, instilling the right values in our children and celebrating the spirit of a family at large. It is a children’s book for reading to the under-sevens, however, the manner in which the author develops the story tends to strike a chord with adults alike.
As a working parent or not, a great way to bond with your child at the end of a tough day is via a book. Besides enhancing their literacy skills and teaching them many a life’s lessons, reading is a fun and imaginative activity that can transport children to all kinds of new worlds.
Mums Don’t Get Sick, authored and illustrated by popular children’s writer, artist, designer and illustrator, Marilyn Hafner, is one book every parent, or early childhood professional should read to their children. It features in the genre of children’s fiction and is specifically targeted for a juvenile audience. The soft pastel colors and fuzzy shading give it a gentle, soothing look. The interdependency of the pictures and text, along with the use of bold, upper case letters allow emergent readers to follow the story explicitly, making this book appropriate for a wide age range of 3 years onwards. The detailed cover illustrations, as well as the back cover book blurb reveal the premise of the book; it is Saturday morning; mum’s ill, and is compelled to stay in bed. Chaos reigns as young Abby is left with no choice (with dad too, out to the shops), but to take over the running of the house, which meant, watching her little brother, the pets, rustling up the family meals and MORE!
Written in part text, part comic-book format, this hilarious book with its lively illustrations has given me several reasons to review it. Close to my heart, ever since I purchased it almost two decades ago; the absolute delight, and pleasure, that both my son and I experienced as we read this book together, compels me to share some of the nostalgia as well as a slice of what was a positive, and a fun-filled experience.
The universality of the themes, its positive undertones, images, and content matter punched with humor make it a must-read. It is common knowledge that the early years are instrumental in developing positive values that are compatible with current expectations and circumstances, within an increasingly global and multi-cultural society that we find ourselves in. As a result, children can be enabled to develop a positive sense of themselves, and others, through the reading of books such as this. For instance, young Abby is portrayed as kind and helpful, who is sympathetic to the fact that her mum is unwell, and should, therefore, shoulder some responsibilities of the household. This endearing portrayal of Abby as a child who is a carer is sure to touch the hearts of young children and trigger positive images and emotions.
Its themes of caring and appreciation, for instance, when mum says, “Oh how wonderful everything looks,” when she comes to lunch, or when she praises Abby by saying, “I’m really proud of you,” for her valiant efforts at minding the house, makes children feel good about themselves and enhances their self-worth. The themes of assuming responsibility, the importance of family, the authenticity and realism of the characters portrayed; reflected in Abby’s struggles to look after her baby brother, the pets, and the handling of the household tasks; dad’s character- portrayed as non-stereotypical- as he goes out to do the groceries; aids in providing images of positive role models for children.
The PETS have a say too!! The personification of the pets (skillfully inserted during the course of the story), provide an element of humor; which makes, Mums Don’t Get Sick a fun read not only for the prescribed age group but even for us adults as we read to our children.
The story centers around a young girl named Abby and her family comprising mum, dad, her baby brother, David and two adorable pets, a cat and a dog. Abby wakes up one Saturday morning, excited at the prospect of being off from school and getting treated to a special, leisurely breakfast of scrambled eggs. A holiday combined with no work promises to be a great day for Abby, “but this Saturday, when Abby woke up, something seemed different.” With that, the very first page sets the tone of the book and creates suspense for the reader. Dad announces that mum is sick and has to stay in bed, so Abby would have to wait for breakfast. Abby fails to comprehend how mum could be sick, because, according to her, as well as a universally acknowledged belief, mums are those perfect, loving beings, who can NOT possibly be sick! BUT, this mum is human, as all mums are, and CAN be sick. The dog too is disappointed as he exclaims, “oh no!” Dad leaves the house to run some errands and poor Abby is left with the monumental task of running the house. She tries her best and the pets follow suit but all hell breaks loose as Abby tries to restore order. She realizes how difficult the seemingly easy chores can be as she fails at fixing a jelly that won’t set and the bowl that breaks, with the baby crying and the washing machine that overflows and the dryer that won’t stop…. UNTIL DAD COMES HOME!!
The reader is quickly drawn to young Abby. She truly is an endearing character and the author succeeds brilliantly in narrating her story with the clever use of onomatopoeias to reveal Abby’s desperation and chaos as the baby cries, “WAAAAA!” and the machine goes, “KLONK,” and “BUZZZZZZ” as the drier won’t stop. The readers sense as much relief, as the characters do, when dad walks in. This is illustrated in graphic detail with only a single line occupying half a page, printed in big, bold letters, “DAD AT LAST!” The only other word is also a cry of desperation as David wails, ‘DADDY!”
A semblance of order is restored as everyone along with dad’s help is galvanized into action. The racy comic strip dialogues with interjections and exclamations, accompanied by vivid and detailed graphics, sustain the reader’s interest. The cleaning up accomplished, the family whips up a lovely meal of soup and sandwiches, and surprises mum. Mum is ecstatic at the sight of a beautifully laid out lunch, complete with flowers and a card and Mum, in turn, is appreciative of Abby’s efforts as she comments on how proud she is, with the latter’s attempt at helping out.
All’s well that ends well as Abby requests mum to read her a story. Certainly, this touching mother-daughter scene is my favorite moment in the book. I could justify this hilarious and perceptive read with a 5-star rating and recommend that every child who is read to; or reads, Mums Don’t Get Sick will enjoy it to the fullest.
Any tips or tricks for seeing to your children when you are down, or do you have to soldier on?
Faux-stained glass, sea-glass, and mosaic artist; early childhood facilitator/educator/researcher and a passionate mother and homemaker, a simple life where children gather is good with me.
A restless experimentalist and totally inspired by my love for the ocean; this is explicitly reflected in my glass art. I create sculptural glass art for both professional and home settings from public installations (children’s nurseries & hotels) to small craft.
As an Early Years Practitioner, I realise that we live in a new era of working with children. I value deeply, the importance of the work I do, both within the classroom, and outside of it. Inspired by the innocence of young children, I am continually striving to find ways and resources to empower our children in every possible way.
I can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org