Mommy Sayang

illus. by Rosana Sullivan. 48p. (Pixar Animation Studios Artist Showcase). Disney. Apr. 2019. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781368015905.
K-Gr 2—The close relationship between a contemporary Malaysian girl and her mother form the heart of this picture book. Aleeya and her Mommy sayang (a term of endearment in Malay, always italicized in the text) are inseparable, whether they are doing chores, sharing meals with neighbors, or snuggling up with stories before bed. At night, Aleeya dreams of the two of them rolling through fields of hibiscus flowers together. One day, Mommy sayang doesn't feel well, and Aleeya is left on her own. Days stretch out without her mom, and Aleeya has little interest in anything, until a moment of inspiration sends her to her mother's sickbed with a gift and a promise that sets Mommy sayang on the path to recovery. Unsurprisingly, animator Sullivan's digital illustrations have the look of a Pixar movie, and will feel familiar to many young audiences. Aleeya has light brown skin and long curly hair, and her mother has darker skin and wears a headscarf in most scenes. In their bustling Malaysian village, cars stand next to bicycles and chickens outside of homes. An author's note connects the tale to Sullivan's childhood experiences with her Malaysian mother. However, while Sullivan explains that it was stories that brought her and her mother together during her mother's illness, the book's narrative is more vague and the ending abrupt.
VERDICT This title is notable for an emotionally authentic mother-daughter relationship, if slightly unsatisfying as a narrative. A solid general purchase.

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