Go To Sleep (I Miss You): Cartoons From the Fog of New Parenthood (Lucy Knisley)

Hello friends, and Happy Mother’s Day! As a special treat, today’s review is one for the moms: Go To Sleep (I Miss You): Cartoons From the Fog of New Parenthood by Lucy Knisley.

In this delightful collection of sketches and one- to four-panel cartoons – conceptualized and created during the first few years of her son’s life – graphic novelist Knisley captures the highs and lows – and REALLY lows and lunacies and laughter and tears and in-betweens – of new motherhood. Capturing hilariously specific and relatable aspects of this adjustment period, such as bizarre search histories (“How Many Poops Normal Baby?”), the endless stickiness of one’s inner elbow, the pride/exhaustion of watching them discover the world, and an entire chapter titled “Bodily Fluids.”

I loved this. I definitely had multiple laughs of understanding and sympathy as I read, even texting excerpts to mom friends who also remember the wonderment and bewilderment of that crazy time in you and your baby’s life. Knisley lays it all on the page, from gushing over her somewhat-biased designation of her son as “the best” baby; to the endless frustrations and physical/emotional toll of breastfeeding, and everything in-between. The art is frank yet fond, sarcastic yet sweet, and perfectly captures the running theme of “Motherhood is Weird”. Readers who have survived this stage of motherhood will look back on their own bittersweet memories of babyhood, and new moms may feel a little less alone in their brave new world. Just note: this one is definitely for adult readers; while JJ enjoyed looking over my shoulder at the illustrations, the subject matter was far beyond her or most any child. This one’s just for the moms, and a warm and worthy tribute to motherhood it is. Baby Bookworm’s Mama approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

You Be Mommy (Karla Clark)

Hello, friends! Our book today is You Be Mommy, written by Karla Clark and illustrated by Zoe Persico, a sweet tribute to everything moms do for their loved ones… and what makes it all worth it.

“Can you be mommy?” an exhausted mother jokingly asks her youngest child at bedtime. After all, Mommy has had a big day. She worked a full shift at her retail job, then came home to a messy house. She helped with homework, bathed the dog, drove the older siblings to their practices, did laundry, mended clothes, cooked; and so on and so on (context clues would indicate she is a single parent as well). Mommy is just feeling a little… pooped! Gamely, her little girl plays along, wiping Mommy’s nose, tucking her in under her favorite blanket, and giving goodnight kisses and cuddles. Yet when the little girl begins to drift off herself, Mommy smiles, and does what mommies always do – takes care of her baby.

Adorable. In subdued yet amusing rhyme, the story follows a harried – yet never quite flustered – mom through her busy day, bookended by the charming and relatable exchange with her youngest child. It’s a subtle balance of celebrating hard-working moms and reminding younger readers of not only everything moms do for their families, but also why they do these things; simply, because they care. The cartoonish illustration is lush and vibrant with color; the family’s home has a fantastic visual theme of growing green plants and cozy textures. One thing I loved especially was that the super-mom was depicted as a more average-sized, curvy woman; moms in picture books are not often shown as anything other than skinny and/or hourglass-shaped. In addition to being a woman of color, it’s a nice bit of representation for super-moms. The length was perfect, and JJ and I really enjoyed it. A warm and worthy celebration of often-unsung heroes, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

You Belong (Rachel Platten)

Hello, friends! As we gear up to Mother’s Day, we have a few lovely mama-themed books to share with you! Today, we’re reviewing You Belong, written by Rachel Platten and illustrated by Marcin Piwowarski, a tribute to the excitement and anticipation of a new baby’s arrival.

Adapted from singer-songwriter Platten’s 2018 single of the same name (which was itself inspired by Platten’s pregnancy with her first child), this sincere title looks at the exciting and anxious days leading up to a baby’s birth – from the nursery-painting, baby showers, and simple wondering – to the arrival and childhood of the baby-to-be. Following a central expectant couple (drawn as Platten and her husband), the artwork also features a diverse cast of families also anticipating, raising, and loving their babies, assuring them that no matter who they are or what they do, they belong.

Very sweet. Platten’s earnest lyrics translate well to book format; the rhythm flows well even when recited a-melodically, and the words have a strongly story-like narrative. A section in the middle where a bridge repeats is a little awkward for readers unfamiliar with the titular tune, and probably could have been omitted, but it’s also only two pages that feature some of the most beautiful art in the book so.. fair play. On that subject, the dreamy art is colorful yet serene, and fits the text perfectly. The racially-diverse families, which also include single-parent, mixed-race, and extended family are a nice effort; one couple was possibly LGBT+, but this was visually pretty vague. Still, the length was good, and JJ enjoyed this one. A solid addition to the new-baby picture book genre that is clearly straight from the heart, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Little Tigers (Jo Weaver)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Tigers by Jo Weaver, third in her touching series about mothers and their little ones.

One night, Mother Tiger hears the sounds of men and dogs near their den, and decides that it’s time to move further into the jungle. The next morning, she and her two cubs, Sera and Puli, set off on a search for a new home. Sera suggests a private, protected nook she knows, a cave behind a waterfall. Mother Tiger explains that it is too wet; to Puli’s suggestion of the branches of a tall tree, she similarly explains the problems with sleeping up too high. Two more locations are explored, neither the right fit for the Tiger family. Growing concerned that they will have nowhere to spend the night, Mother Tiger spots a promising locale: a ruined temple that’s been reclaimed by nature. After investigating, Mother Tiger declares it safe, and she and cubs cuddle together for a good night’s rest.

One of Weaver’s previous books, Little One, is one of my absolute favorite picture books on motherhood, and this one has many of the same elements: themes of family, nature, exploration, and motherly love, wrapped in a package of some absolutely breathtaking illustrations. The story is simple and easy to follow for young bookworms, yet teases weightier subjects – such as human encroachment and the threat to Bengal tigers – that are worthy of consideration and discussion for older readers. The length is fine for bookworms of any age, JJ was enchanted by the lifelike artwork, and, as a mom, it inspired a particularly heartwarming reaction from me. A quiet, lovely tale, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Top 5: Books About Moms

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Hello, friends! We’re wrapping up May, so it’s time for another Top 5 list! Since this past month we celebrated both Mother’s Day and my birthday, I decided to be a little indulgent with this Top 5. So for this month’s list, we’ve rounded up our favorite books about moms. Be she mom, mommy, mama, or mother, there’s no denying the special bond a mother has with her child, and the books we’ve chosen for this list celebrate that connection.

So here we go: our Top 5 Books About Moms:

1. Silly Wonderful You (Sherri Duskey Rinker)

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This was actually the book we read for Mother’s Day this year, and it was a perfect pick. Told through the eyes of a (mostly) patient mother’s daily life with her rambunctious toddler, this book captures the highs, lows, messes, smells, laughs, tears, and wonders of being mother to a little one. Patrick McDonnell of Mutts fame uses his signature pen-and-ink illustrations to captures each preposterous and precious moment with joy and tenderness. It’s a sweet, funny yet sentimental book that makes for a perfect bedtime read, and it’s one of our new favorites.

2. The Runaway Bunny (Margaret Wise Brown)

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A classic tale from the same author/illustrator duo as Goodnight Moon, this touching and timeless tale is, in some ways, better than its more famous counterpart. A young bunny tells his mother that he is going to run away, going on grand adventures and becoming impossible things, and that he will leave her behind. The mother bunny knows better, however; no matter where he goes or what he becomes, she will always be with him in one way or another. The young bunny is comforted by this, deciding to stay put and be her little bunny instead. It’s a beautifully symbolic tale of a mother’s unconditional love, with art by Clement Hurd that still astounds after 75 years.

3. Love Is (Diane Adams)

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This book still brings a tear to my eye. Told in delicate rhyme and accompanied by flawless illustrations by Claire Keane, Love Is tells the story of motherhood to children by disguising it as a story about a pet duckling. A little girl finds a lost duckling, taking her in and caring for her. Through midnight feedings, messy bathtimes, and moments of fear and joy, the girl watches her duckling grow. And once the duckling is ready, though it pains her heart, she knows that it is time to let her little one out to explore the world on its own. This one is especially nice because, using the duckling metaphor, it shows that motherhood is not strictly a biological connection. It’s a gorgeous, touching, and timeless story that takes on new meaning with each read.

4. Still My Mommy (Megan Pomputius)

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Sometimes parents, whom little ones typically regard as indestructible, have health issues, and it can be a frightening time for an entire family. Still My Mommy, which author Pomputius based on her own experience with cancer, aims to comfort children through the scary, confusing, and difficult experience of watching a parent deal with a serious illness. Subdued and gentle art by Andrea Alemanno fits the tone of the book perfectly. While introducing some elements of cancer treatment, the most important part of this book is the message: that illness may change a loved one physically, mentally or emotionally, but they will always be the same person underneath. As the little girl in the book discovers, while her mother may be thinner and lose her hair, or may not be able to run and play as they once did, she will still always want to be with her little girl, because she is still her mommy.

5. Little One (Jo Weaver)

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A gorgeous tale of motherhood told through some of the most breathtaking art we’ve seen in a children’s book, Little One follows a mother bear and her cub through a year of their lives. As the seasons pass, the bear cub makes discoveries about his world and himself, always with his mother by his side to help and guide him. As the year draws to a close, the pair bed down in their den once more for a winter’s sleep, together as always. It’s a classic tale of mother and child, but the real star of the show here is the phenomenal charcoal art, which captures both the beauty of nature and motherhood with stunning detail. It’s a peaceful, calm, and touching book about a mother’s love.

There you have it! A Top 5 list of books perfect for mothers to share with their baby bookworms. We also wanted to add one honorable mention:  Stella Brings The Family by Miriam B. Schiffer is a beautiful story about how maternal influences need not always be from a mother, or even female. We wanted to include it for families who may not have a mother in their lives; motherhood is not necessarily a bond made by genetics, but it is always one made by love.

So, what do you think? Did we miss any of your favorites? Do you have a book about mothers you would like to recommend to us? Let us know in the comments, or message us from our Contact page. Thanks so much, and happy reading!