by Barbara M Joosse; Barbara Lavallee; Brenda Rae Eno; Chronicle Books (Firm) Print book : Fiction : Juvenile audience
Mama Do You Love Me?   (2008-09-17)
ISBN 0811821315 - Having read mostly positive reviews of this book, with most of the dissenters not making much sense, I was really looking forward to finding out if it could live up to the hype. The cover is appealing, in the same uniquely ethnic way ISBN:1931127700 The Rhythm of My Day (Kindermusik) appeals. This edition is a board book and is probably shortened from the original.
A child asks her mother "do you love me?" and, being assured that Mama does, indeed, love her very much, she proceeds to question that love further and further. The daughter wonders if Mama would love her if she did small things - broke eggs by accident or played pranks. Her mother says she would be sorry, or angry, or sad, etc. but that she would still love her daughter.
Some reviews have mentioned that the mother's unconditional love is an indication that the mother finds her daughter's suggested behavior acceptable. "What if I turned into a polar bear, and I was the meanest bear you ever saw and I had sharp, shiny teeth and I chased you into your tent and you cried?" the daughter asks and the mother replies "Then I would be very surprised and very scared. But still, inside the bear, you would be you, and I would love you." Mama's replies always include the OTHER feelings as well, from sorry to very surprised and very scared, but she repeatedly insists that she will love her daughter: that's what unconditional love is. A child can do bad things and make a parent angry, but the parent will still love them and Barbara Joosse conveys that message well here. The illustrations by Barbara Lavallee are fantastic. This book opens the door, if you want to step through it, for conversations about other cultures. The only potential negative will be parents stumbling over "ptarmigan", a word no other children's book is likely to introduce them to.
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