When Mom’s Away

Second Story. Apr. 2021. 24p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781772601756.
PreS-K–A girl with brown skin and a black ponytail is upset when her mother (a doctor) announces she must be apart from her to help care for patients. After the pale-skinned mother explains that a virus is spreading, the girl and her father, his complexion like her own, prepare a space for the mother to quarantine in the garage. The parents’ positive explanations and encouragement help distract the girl from her fear and sadness. The father keeps her busy, helping neighbors with shopping, delivering meals (socially distanced) to grandparents, and singing a song while washing hands. Video chats with the mother and online school fill the time until soon enough, the mother is welcomed home. “She is a superhero. She’s helping her patients get better.” The cartoon-style illustrations and an overly positive text (paired with an overuse of exclamation points) may detract, but the title successfully depicts the impact of the virus for a child. The words “quarantine” and “COVID” are never mentioned so the text assumes that familiarity.
VERDICT An accessible right-out-of-the-headlines tale, sure to resonate with any child seeking more information about this global crisis.

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