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Book Review: ARE YOU MY MOTHER? – written and illustrated by P.D. Eastman


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.


Enrichment Activities:

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.

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Book Review: THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD! written and illustrated by Mo Willems


Willems, Mo. 2007. THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD! . Ill. by Mo Willems. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 978-1-4231-0686-9

Mo Willems has written and illustrated an entertaining, silly, and easy-to-read masterpiece in his 2008 Geisel Award winning picture book THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD! . This simple story is about best friends Elephant and Piggie.  Gerald the Elephant is horrified to learn that first one,  then TWO, love birds decide to alight and rest on the top of his cranium.  When the love birds decide to build a nest and start a family on his head, Gerald enlists the advice of his friend Piggie.  Piggie sagely advises Gerald to politely ask the birds to move somewhere else, with hilarious unintended consequences!  This simple, yet comical, caper has delighted young-children and early-readers everywhere.

This easy-reader picture book has a simple enough plot and language that early-readers should have no trouble deciphering it.  However, while some early-reader books remain “stilted and dry” in their simplicity, this story remains entertaining in its ridiculousness and hilarity (Vardell 2008, 46-47).  The American Library Association proclaimed the “balanced design of color-coordinated speech bubbles, expressive cartoon art and familiar vocabulary create an engaging, laugh-out-loud experience for young readers” (American Library Association 2008).  The white background and simple illustrations in this book draw attention to the text.  The speech bubbles portraying the character’s dialog are boldly and colorfully showcased prominently on each page. The characters act out the meaning of the text in the illustrations giving early readers both written and visual clues about the plot (Bird 2012).



Enrichment Activities:

This story can easily become incorporated into lessons on assertiveness and friendship by initiating a conversation about the plot with children after finishing the story.  Mo Willems’ website “Pigeon Presents!” (http://www.pigeonpresents.com/grownup.aspx) contains teacher guides for many of his books including THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD! . This website contains a free document called the “Elephant and Piggie Party Kit”.  In this Party Kit, story-time and circle-time ideas are given along with worksheets and suggested discussion question.

Animated Version of the Story:

What to Read Next:

Willems, Mo. 2003. DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS!. Ill. by Mo Willems. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 978-0786819881

Willems, Mo. 2010. CAN I PLAY TOO?. Ill. by Mo Willems. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 978-1423119913


American Library Association. 2008. “Mo Willems wins Geisel Award for “THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD! ”.”  January 14. Accessed January 19, 2014. http://www.ala.org/news/news/pressreleases2008/january2008/geisel08.

Bird, Elizabeth. 2012. “Top 100 Picture Books #60: THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD!  by Mo Willems.” School Library Journal. May 25. Accessed January 19, 2014. http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2012/05/25/top-100-picture-books-60-there-is-a-bird-on-your-head-by-mo-willems/.

Vardell, Sylvia M. 2008. CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IN ACTION: A LIBRARIAN’S GUIDE. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Willems, Mo. 2007. THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD!  New York: Hyperion Books for Children.

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