Friday, October 23, 2009

Mamma, Do You Love Me?

Title: Mamma, Do You Love Me?

Author: Barbara M.Joosse

Illustrator: Barbara Lavallee

Suggested Age Group: Ages 0-3, Self readers 4-8

Publisher, Year: Chronicle books, www.chroniclekids.com, 1991

Continent: North America



There are a few things that are universal. These things are so primal that they are a paradigm across cultures…. actually across species. The unconditional bond of love that exists between mother and child is one of those paradigms. The essence of this book is – All mothers love their children unconditionally and all children go through insecurity when it comes to love and acceptance.

Portrayed in this book is an Inuit mother and her daughter. The Inuit are the indigenous people of Alaska, Canada and the Arctic, basically the northwestern belt of the North American continent.

The child asks her mother a simple question, ‘Mamma, do you love me?’ and the mother replies in the affirmative. The child is still not satisfied with a simple ‘Yes dear’. Also the mother-child love is neither quantifiable nor objective. So the child proceeds to ask her mother how much and for how long she loves her. The child is still not satisfied with her mother’s answers. So she gives her mother scenarios. The child asks her mother if she would love her inspite of the intentional and accidental mischief on the child’s part. The book ends with the mother swinging the child and saying, ‘I will love you forever and always, because you are my Dear One.’

When you are a primary care provider for a young child, there is a melting pot of emotions involved. There is love, happiness, pride, anger, frustration, doubt, sadness, guilt, a sense of responsibility … enough material to write volumes of books. The thinking that children must be happy ALL THE TIME mires parents many a times. This leads to guilt when the child is unhappy. What parents must realize is that children learn by pushing limits, by testing and that they need to experience all emotions within a safe and loving environment.

Like in this book, when the child breaks ptarmigan eggs by accident, the mother tells the child that she is sorry that the eggs broke, but she understands that this was an accident and reassures the child that she still loves her. The child asks the mother what the mother would do if she extinguished the lamp by purposefully throwing water on the lamp. Imagine the cold, snowy, unforgiving Arctic where people are at the mercy of nature’s elements. Fire is simply not a luxury, it sometimes defines the existence of human life. In this situation if the child pours water on purpose, it is perfectly okay to tell the child though you love her dearly, this behavior is unacceptable and that you are VERY angry. It would make the child sad and insecure, but one simply cannot indulge the child just to keep the child happy. By telling the child that you are angry, you are giving the child a life lesson.

Every book has one element that appeals to its readers. What appealed to me is, ‘one does not have to act happy to make their child feel loved. You can be truthful to your child and still make him/her feel loved.’

Both the author and the illustrator have worked hard to capture the essence of the Inuit culture. Living in the snow means that sometimes you are cut off from civilization for long periods of time and that you must learn how to sustain yourself. You can see that the mother is making dolls and weaving baskets. What you need, you learn to make from scratch with what little scrap that is available!

I could go on an on, but I will be giving out everything and strip you all of the pleasure of making your own discoveries. So check out this book and tell us what you think about it.

15 comments:

Tharini said...

Wow. What a book and what a pick! I loved what you said about not putting on a happy face all the time. It really is very comforting, because as you said, we parents give ourselves enough grief as it is.

I definitely want to experience the Inuit culture through my own discoveries. And I will!

Thansk UTBT!

And yaay...first comment on first review of our first CROCUS festival! :D

meera sriram said...

A Book on arental love..what better way to kick off the avalanche of good books! Great lessons for me, more than my daughter:) The climatic and geographical setting, neatly highlighted!

Kodi's Mom said...

great review, UTBT! loved the book when we read it a while back, love your review even more - think we'll check it out again :)

Anonymous said...

beautiful, beautiful book! My kids and I love it..we will read it again tonight
-prita

ChoxBox said...

LOVELY!

I want it!

Sheela said...

"children learn by pushing limits, by testing ... they need to experience all emotions within a safe and loving environment."

Very true! Glad you brought that to light in your review, UTBT, and the fact that teaching that actions-have-consequences is not depriving the child of love, as long as it is done in a 'safe and loving environment'.

Praba said...

Wonderful! Inuit culture - you've gone way up north all the way to the arctic...burrrr...! But, hey, can you ask for a more heart-warming theme than mother's love? :-)

UTBT, I must say you've touched upon one of the most fundamental issues in parenting - the thin line differentiating a good parent as opposed to a "loving, consistently wise" parent helping kids with their emotional learning experiences!

I guess the key take-away for me is, the heart-warming tone of voice and the consistent manner in which the mother addresses the issue of disciplining while telling her kid she would always love her...something I know I will carry in my heart... :-) another reason to continue reading children's books even as adults - some are full of valuable life-lessons ! :-)

Couldnt resist leaving a long one!sorry! :-)

Thanks, UTBT!!

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

I have read this book sometime back and had loved it ... but your review makes me want to re-read it !

utbtkids said...

Tharini: When I saw this book, I just HAD to buy it because we are now hearing quite a lot of, "Amma, you don't love me and you say no to me" and I have to stop and say, "Just because I don't say yes to every thing, it does not mean that I don't love you. It does not mean that I say NO to everything." Quite long, but our resident almost five year old is tooooo sensitive to verbal language, body language, mood perceptions, implied meanings, reading between the lines etc.

Meera: Thanks.

K's Mom, Prita, Cantaloupes.Amma: Do it and tell us abt you discoveries.

Chox: Buy it. That is my slogan. Even if we don't have space to live, my books will have a space.

Sheela: Thanks. I see some mothers who have a hard time saying no. Giving the children the world is one thing, preparing them to go get the world in another thing :)

Praba: If you haven't already, you must visit Alaska. Beautiful beyond words, but the scary, will make you cry, kneel down in modesty, will make you realize how small you are in the bigger picture kind of beautiful.

Long comments are absolutely welcome. That way we get to find you discoveries :)

sathish said...

a great start! utbt!

we were away for almost of a day and it is nice to see 3 very interesting reviews when we come back and open the browser. some great choices.. now it is time to figure out how I can find them in bangalore.

ranjani.sathish said...

Beautiful and very informative review Utbt !! Since all these groups are very new to me, it was interesting to read about them in this and the other reviews.

B o o said...

So I can forgive my dad for not sending me to the school excursion? he actually loves me?!! Just kidding! ;) Lovely review, Utbt.

the mad momma said...

okay - this is a book i need to find. beautiful review utbt!

Choxbox said...

Came across the book by sheer accident.
Loved it, as did the child.

Came here to check your review - somehow it had stuck in my head that it was here on ST.

Brill review utbt.

Jaso said...

I read this book so many times to my girls. And every time, as a group, the three of us find ourselves more relaxed in the feeling the love, no matter what. I get questions after like, Amma, what if I? After your review, I want to find it and read it again.

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