My Meerkat Mum, by Ruth Paul

Up. Down. Dig. Play.
Meerkat Mum leads the way.

From first light till bedtime, Meerkat Mum supervises her children, guiding, scolding, feeding, and guarding. Even when they finally rest safe in their burrow, she will remain alert for danger all night.

My Meerkat Mum is a delightful rhyming text which captures the jerky, slightly humorous movements for which meerkats are known, in its stop/start rhythm. It withstands repeated readings (this reviewer road tested it with a ten month old who sat through four readings).

The illustrations, rendered digitally are equally delightful, with golden desrt hues and semi-realistic portrayals of the meerkats and other animals, though mum and one meerkat pup are adorned with flowers, and another has a favourite cuddly toy aardvark.

Suitable for babies through to early schoolers.

My Meerkat Mum, by Ruth Paul
Scholastic NZ, 207
ISBN 9781775434894

Hattie Helps Out, by Jane Godwin & Davina Bell, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Hattie watched as Mama’s breath went9781743435434.jpg
in and out, in and out. She looked just like a little girl.
Poor Mama must be very tires.
I know! thought Hattie. I will help out.

It’s Dad’s birthday and Mum is getting everything ready for the party – with help from Hattie. But when Mum says it’s time for Hattie’s nap, Hattie isn’t keen. She convinces Mum to lie down with her and she doesn’t fall asleep – but Mum does. So Hattie decides that it’s up to her to help out and get everything ready for the party.

Hattie Helps Out is a gently funny story about growing up, being helpful and families. When Hattie tries to help, not everything goes the way it should – she sticks the biscuits together with stickytape (instead of icing), puts flowers in odd places all around the house and hides the mess wherever she can manage. But she does it with love – and that is how it is received by the extended family when they arrive, and Mum when she wakes up.

The water colour and pencil illustrations by Freya Blackwood bring the family to life, with the rough outlines giving a gentle quality.
Hattie Helps Out will make adult and child readers alike smile.

Hattie Helps Out, by Jane Godwin & Davina Bell, illustrated by Freya Blackwood
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781743435434

Mum Goes to Work, by Libby Gleeson & Leila Rudge

Mum Goes to WorkIt’s early morning.
Everyone is arriving at the centre.
It’s noisy and busy while Mark and Mai greet everyone.
Mum is going to work.
“Bye, Mum.”

As the mums head off to work, their children settle in for a day of playing, and resting, and eating. What do mums do when they are wt work? And what do the children do while Mum is away?

Mum Goes to Work is a beautiful picture book about mothers and children, and about child care centres. Each spread shows one mother at work, explaining what she does there, before looking at what the child and a friend do at the childcare centre. The children’s activities mirror what the mother is doing. So, while Laurence’s mother works in a cafe, Laurence and Georgia make sand cake and sand biscuits in the sandpit, and while Max’s mum works as a nurse, Max and Ann put the dolls to bed in the dress up corner.

The illustrations show mums from lots of different backgrounds and, while the text focusses on mums, the illustrations show dads at drop off and pick up, too, a nice touch, as is the fact that one of the childcare workers is male. The illustrations, in watercolour, pencil and collage, are softly coloured and have lots of detail of both the childcare centre and the mothers’ workplaces, with mots spreads having several smaller pictures. This gives plenty to be explored on the repeated readings that the book is likely to have.

Mum Goes to Work is an excellent offering, particularly for families who use childcare, and for centres, too.

Mum Goes to Work, by Libby Gleeson & Leila Rudge
Walker Books, 2015
ISBN 9781921529825

Available from good bookstores and online.

Our Love Grows, by Anna Pignataro

In the deep green forest, Pip asked, ‘Mama, when will I be big?’
‘You’re bigger than you were before,’ said Mama.

Pip the panda looks forward to being big, but her gentle, wise Mama tells her she is bigger than she was, and goes on to tell her just how she has grown – and how their love has grown, too.

This gentle, lyrical picture book is a celebration of love and parent-child bonding, told partly in rhyming prose, and with just a line or two of text per spread. This allows the simple but divine watercolour illustrations to take centre stage, with the love between mother and child obvious through their facial expressions and the range of activities they do together: playing, exploring, resting and admiring the world around them.

A feature of both text and illustration is that Pip’s gender is not mentioned, an ambiguity which allows the child reader to choose (or not to choose) whether (s)he is a girl or boy.

Perfect for bedtime, cuddle time or any time reading.

Our Love Grows, by Anna Pignataro
Scholastic Press, 2015
ISBN 9781743626269

Available from good bookstores and online.

Hey Mum, I Love You, by Corinne Fenton

Hey Mum,
I love you…
more than the prickliest tickle…

This delightful offering for the very young, and their mothers, is an absolute delight. The text is simple, only a few sentences in total, with a list of ways the child narrator loves his/her mum, and how affirming that is:
Because I know
with you beside me
I can do anything.

The illustrations are large photographs of various animals, chiefly of an adult with one or more young, showing affection (such as a giraffe kissing another), or in action. The text and illustrations are on white backgrounds, adding to the simplicity and making the overall product a gentle whole perfect for cuddle time or bedtime reading.

Hey Mum, I Love You is a lovely complement to Hey Baby, but each stands alone.



Hey Mum, I Love You

Hey Mum, I Love You, by Corinne Fenton
Black Dog, 2014
ISBN 9781922244581

Available from good bookstores or online.

What Makes My Mum Happy, by Tania Cox & Lorette Broekstra

What makes Mum happy?
When I start her day with breakfast on a tray;
when I make her a crown to wear into town;
when she watches me dance, skip, hop and prance.

What makes Mum happy?
When I start her day with breakfast on a tray;
when I make her a crown to wear into town;
when she watches me dance, skip, hop and prance.

The simple text of this hard cover offering focuses on what makes Mum happy – with an emphasis on things Mum and child do together, or that the child does for/around Mum – making things for Mum, playing together or doing every day things. Illustrations support this – showing various mothers and their children revelling in being together. In both text and image it is lovely to see togetherness being celebrated, and hugs and cuddles in abundance, and also to see the mums and children coming from different ethnic groups and seemingly having different interests, rather than being generic.

Released in April, in time for Mother’s Day, this a book to be enjoyed all year round by mums and their children, and with simple, minimal text would be suitable for the very young.

What Makes My Mum Happy

What Makes My Mum Happy, by Tania Cox & Lorette Broekstra
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742378374

This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.

I Love My Mum, by Anna Walker

Little zebra, Ollie, takes the reader through a normal sort of day, the sort of day familiar to many mothers and small children. There are everyday tasks like washing and going for a walk. But everyday tasks are new to little people and there is mystery and adventure in the simplest of tasks. The text here is very simple and there is magic in the illustrations. Anna Walker has used watercolours and ensured plenty of white space remains. Ollie is a small stuffed toy, perhaps a zebra, and Mum is a slightly larger version. I Love My Mum is a small format hardback book, perfect for little hands.

Anna Walker’s illustrations are just beautfiul. Her gentle watercolours set in white space allow plenty of room for the reader to bring their own story. It’s easy to imagine sharing I Love My Mum with a small child and revisiting their day or their way of doing things. Walker’s use of an androgynous toy as main character allows wide appeal, although with the pink detail on the cover, it’s most likely this will be a treasured book for a small girl. A lovely book. Recommended for 3-5 yo children. First released in small format hardcover in 2009, it is now available in larger format paperback.
I Love My Mum
I Love My Mum, Anna Walker
Scholastic 2009

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond.  Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

I Spy Mum! by Janeen Brian & Chantal Stewart

I spy with my little eye
mums all starting with m.
But can I find the one who’s mine?
Will she be with them?

A young boy sailor is searching for his mum. He sits in his boat and peers out through his telescope. With gentle rhythmic language he tells of the mums he sees. There are drawing mums and roaring mums, making mums and baking mums. But none of them are his. There is a refrain, to let the reader know that the search must continue, and never be given up. Of course, he ultimately finds his own mum and they sail off together on the ocean. Illustrations are watercolour with plenty of white space. Text meanders around the pages, much as the searcher does with his telescope. There is always a sense that he will eventually find his mother.

I Spy Mum! is a celebration of the special relationship between child and mother. It might be on the tennis court, stringing flowers or sailing the seas, but the main point is that children love to share time with their mum. They like doing all sorts with mums, including playing hide and seek. The text is short, the language simple with repetition of sounds, and children will soon be predicting the next word, then ‘reading’ the whole text. The relationships portrayed are varied but all warm and inclusive. I Spy Mum! is a companion to ‘I Spy Dad!’ and will be enjoyed by young, pre-reading and early reading children.

I Spy Mum!

I Spy Mum! Janeen Brian, ill Chantal Stewart
New Frontier 2010
ISBN: 9781921042164

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

I Love My Mum, by Anna Walker

Ollie B is a small zebra-ish character who invites the reader into the everyday. In this outing, Ollie shares a day with Mum. Ollie helps with Mum’s jobs and then they go for a walk. The walk is full of the ordinary and extraordinary. The day ends with a wonderful bedtime hug. Illustrations are soft and evocative watercolours, full of colour and movement. I Love My Mumis a smallish hardback, styled as others in the series.

Ollie could be boy or girl. Readers will make their own decision. And it doesn’t really matter. I Love My Mumis full of the magic of everyday, celebrating the simple things that fill many days for Mum and small child. Learning is gentle. Familiar things become new through the eyes of small children. The size of I Love My Mumis perfect for little children who can follow the story in the illustrations, with or without the words being spoken.

Recommended for pre-schoolers.

I Love My Mum

I Love My Mum, Anna Walker
Scholastic 2010
ISBN: 9781741693331

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Together, by Anna Pignataro

As the sun came down behind
the bramble bushes Oli asked,
‘Mamma, are you there?’
‘I’m right here,’ said Mamma.

Togetherbegins with a child checking that their mother is close by. What follows is an affirmation of mother-child love. The child asks questions, and Mamma tells her that she will always be there. The pair travel from the ‘now’ to the ends of the earth. The ‘now’ of the picture book disappears in Mamma’s reassurance that wherever the child will go, so will she. Illustrations are in pencil and watercolours, gentle and colourful. ‘Together’ is an almost square, small-format hardback. The red cover offers a portal image of Mother and child reading a book together, just as this book is designed to be. Gold embossed lettering of title, author and falling leaves enhance the tactile experience of this book. Endpapers show the journeying child.

Together is a lovely book. The topic is not new, in fact the need for reassurance and affirmation is as old as time. But each new generation needs to learn for themselves what it is to be loved and cherished. The text is very short, with illustrations conveying much of the action. It’s easy to imagine little fingers turning the pages, contributing to the ‘reading’. It is a book to be read and reread for comfort and reassurance. One small quibble is that the child in one spread is pictured holding an attractive-looking but poisonous toadstool (poison to people, if not to teddy bears!) Recommended for preschool-aged children.


Together, Anna Pignataro
Scholastic 2009

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author