Mama’s Days

Reycraft. Dec. 2022. 32p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781478875994.
Gr 1-3–The narrator, a young blonde girl, recounts good and bad days with her mother, who struggles with unspecified mental health issues. Some days are full of laughter; some days, spontaneity; and some days, sadness, in which the mother cannot get out of bed. All the while, the girl tells her mother a story of a princess, a queen, and the dragon next door who is sometimes nice and sometimes scary. The girl concludes that the dragon can be “dangerous AND clumsy AND kind,” and that her mother loves her the best that she can. Each spread begins with a metaphor about the mother, and some of these convey more than others. In one, “Mama is bright like the yellow part of a rainbow,” and the two enjoy popsicles in the sunshine. Young readers may have a more difficult time understanding the mother when she is “flat like the scratched surface of our wooden table” or “thirsty like a wilting plant.” Ruiz’s beautiful illustrations project more than metaphors of the text. Color and light show the emotions of the two characters without feeling too heavy-handed. When the girl and her mother are together, they are in their own world; no other characters are shown, even as background. When the mother cannot get out of bed, an arm gently leads the girl away, though the entirety of the person holding her hand remains subtle.
VERDICT Important for the understanding messages that are comforting without hitting too hard, this book is best shared one on one, and should be available wherever books on mental health are needed.

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