We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2019 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
Written by Beverly Gherman Illustrated by Julia Downing
Published by Clarion Books (2012).
ISBN: 0547223013 (ISBN13: 9780547223018)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
When I chanced upon this title in our library shelves while scouring for books that would fit our current reading theme on mothers, sisters, aunts, tribes of women, female bonds in literature – I felt that it would be a good fit. While technically not about mother-daughter relationships (all the American Presidents, as we all know, are male – insert eye roll here) – the First Mothers here are depicted as a tribe of women who collectively have raised influential, powerful men who ruled the Free World.
I especially enjoyed how the mothers were facetiously depicted to be gossiping amongst each other, comparing notes, arguing about whose son is better and more accomplished.
The mini-biographies are very briefly told – some are longer than others, but most are done with sufficient substance that makes each woman come alive in the reader’s mind. There were attempts to capture each mother’s essence through the thoughtful and well-researched images.
The list (very thankfully) ends with Barack Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. The way the earlier mothers were imagined to respond to Stanley Ann was also quite entertaining. The first mothers were also shown to come from relatively different backgrounds – while most predictably came from wealthy families (mostly from Virginia), quite a few were immigrants and were salt-of-the-earth mothers with good heads on their shoulders.
More than anything, I appreciated how each President was seen to have been young boys once – at the mercy, protection and tutelage of their fierce, hardworking, determined mothers – regardless of their backgrounds.