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read: mommies at work

1 Nov

I don’t know if this will be a regular thing or not, but I get asked for book recommendations pretty often. While I’m definitely not reading for my own pleasure as much as I used to, I’m reading kids’ books like crazy and I’m always on the lookout for undiscovered gems. There was a pretty amazing era for children’s literature in the 1960s and 1970s — very empowering, equality-focused and inclusive (think Free to be You and Me; thanks, Marlo Thomas, et al.) — and so many wonderful books from that time are out of print after only one run, but can be picked up for less than a dollar a pop if you know what to look for at thrift stores.

One such find, Mommies At Work by Eve Merriam was actually originally written in 1955 — way ahead of its time, if you look at its contemporaries (Harold and the Purple Crayon, Danny and the Dinosaur, Little Bear) — and is still widely available in a revised edition. At Goodwill, I found a paperback 1970s edition with the original illustrations, which I think are much nicer. The earlier the book, in my opinion, the better the pictures. I love the sketchy, somewhat abstract illustrations that were used before things got so cartoony and ugly, back when we used to let kids use their imaginations a little and allowed them to appreciate and identify with something that could be considered art.

Beni Montresor, the illustrator, really nailed these. The pictures don’t distract, but are comfy and sweet and subtly intricate. The words are few but the “story” is clear. I like that.

Lots of different occupations are represented, and the book does a good job of including manual labor (assembly lines, elevator operators — though the latter is kind of a relic, boo hoo) and other jobs that might spark conversation (“atom splitting mommies”!)

The last page is adorable; I dare you not to get a little misty.

Part of the reason I’m so stoked on this book is that I don’t work outside the home and I DO NOT want George to get the impression that mamas who make other choices or have other needs are any more or less important or devoted to their families. The beginning of the book talks about how mommy takes care of you, but can do all these other rad things, as well. Kind of like “Parents are People” in book form (um, that girl at the link is amazing).

…but you don’t have to take MY word for it. da-dum-DUM!