Mama Seeton's Whistle

illus. by LeUyen Pham. 40p. Little, Brown. Apr. 2015. Tr $17.00. ISBN 9780316122177. LC 2013037876.
PreS-Gr 2—When Mama Seeton whistles out the back door, her four children, three boys and a girl, always respond by dashing home for dinner and chocolate cake. But when they grow up and leave town, that whistle can no longer bring them home, and Mama Seeton misses them desperately. One day Papa encourages her to go outside and whistle, hoping the pretense will help, but it doesn't. However, though "no one has ever been able to explain" how it happened, each now-adult child hears the familiar sound and comes home, even from distant places. Now, following her example, Mama Seeton's children call their own offspring with a whistle as well. Mama is based on a neighbor from Spinelli's childhood, and the illustrations, executed in watercolor and ink, feature the cars, bikes, hair styles, clothing, and black-and-white TVs of his boyhood years. An especially effective spread depicting the various exploits of the children all across town conveys the passage of time with a display of all four seasons, beginning with the blossoms of spring on the left and moving across the page to summer greens, autumn colors, and finally, a snow-covered hillside on the right. A wavy pink line swirls throughout the pages connecting mom and children, and alert readers will notice how the kids' childhood interests blossom into their adult pursuits. Author and illustrator notes complete this nostalgic look at the enduring love between a mother and her children.—Marianne Saccardi, Children's Literature Consultant, Greenwich, CT
This feel-good family story shows all the Seeton siblings, from childhood to adulthood, being drawn to home by their mother's "simple, two-note whistle." While the beginning is set in a bygone era, the ending is contemporary and relevant. Homey illustrations with a Norman Rockwell sensibility give the characters distinct personalities and show the whistle as a fantastical entity swirling through the air.

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