Eastman, P.D.. 1960. ARE YOU MY MOTHER?. Ill. by P. D. Eastman. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-90018-9
The suspenseful and humorous beginning-reader mystery titled ARE YOU MY MOTHER? tells the tale of a baby bird and his search for his mother. Anticipating the birth of her new baby, Mother Bird flies off to find some food. Baby Bird hatches during her absence and goes to look for his mother. Baby Bird encounters many animals and objects that he mistakes for his mother along the way. The story ends happily as baby bird is plopped back down into his nest just in time for his mother to fly home.
This classic tale has been listed #45 in the School Library Journal’s top 100 picture books of all time for good reasons (Bird 2012). Baby Bird’s comical mistakes when identifying his mother are ridiculous enough that they will tickle the funny bone of any young reader. Moreover, Baby Bird’s plight of losing his mother is a plot that young children will identify with and is very “believable and relevant to the young child” (Vardell 2008, 58).
The story, which has been around since 1960, will whet parents “appetite for the familiar touchstones of the past” (Vardell 2008, 23). The language is simple and the story short enough that this book would be a good choice for beginning readers. Moreover, the illustrations in the story compliment the text and dialog enabling the child to “see” the story in the pictures. This is an “important part of early literacy” and helps the child to decode the context of the story (Vardell 2008, 42).
The text on the pages of this book is written in large and easy to read font on white background. The monochromatic and simple color scheme used in the book’s artwork does not distract from the words making for easier reading. The illustrations in the book are drawn in shades of muted brown with highlighted features in yellow and red. Warm colors, such as red and yellow, are often used to “convey emotion and symbolism” in children’s picture books (Vardell 2008, 54). P.D. Eastman’s illustrations in ARE YOU MY MOTHER? increasingly showcase bright red and yellow colors as the dramatic plot unfolds. The use of bright colors on “Snort”, the crane truck Baby Bird mistakes for his mother, emphasizes the feelings of fear and frustration Baby Bird is feeling at the peak of his adventure.
The longevity and popularity of this book has led to the creation of many preschool and parent activities that can be tied into story-time, circle-time, or parent-child led lessons. For example, Bight Education Hub (http://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-preschool/96884-story-stretcher-for-are-you-my-mother/) has some wonderful ideas to incorporate an Are You my Mother? theme into the preschool classroom. Also, the obSEUSSed blog contains a printable ARE YOU MY MOTHER? matching game (http://www.obseussed.com/2012/05/are-you-my-mother-printable-matching.html) that parents can print out and play with their children.
An Animated Version of the Story:
What to Read Next:
Stileman, Kali. 2011. ROLY-POLY EGG. Ill. by Kali Stileman. Wilton, CT: Tiger Tales. ISBN 978-1589258525
Sitomer, Alan Lawrence. 2012. DADDIES DO IT DIFFERENT. Ill. by Abby Carter. New York: Disney-Hyperion. ISBN 978-1423133155
Bird, Elizabeth. 2012. “Top 100 Picture Books #45: ARE YOU MY MOTHER? by P.D. Eastman.” School Library Journal. May 29. Accessed January 21, 2014. http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2012/05/29/top-100-picture-books-45-are-you-my-mother-by-p-d-eastman/#_.
Eastman, P.D. 1960. ARE YOU MY MOTHER?. New York: Random House.
Vardell, Sylvia M. 2008. CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IN ACTION: A LIBRARIAN’S GUIDE. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.