My Mother Always Tells Me (2015), by Sharla Kinsman

This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, “Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults.” It appears in volume 20.4.

My Mother Always Tells Me

Kinsman - Mother“My mother always tells me…” In fact, I think it is safe to say that many of our mothers always told us the same things… and Sharla Kinsman is right: we tell our daughters, and it is likely they will tell theirs. This continuity between generations is made explicit in the last pages of My Mother Always Tells Me; up until then, we are merely captivated by the marvellous drawing of the cheeky little girl responding to her mother’s time-tested sayings. The balance between admonition and praise ensures that the book does not come across as prescriptive or didactic. It is more the life of a real child moving through her fun-filled world, learning the rules that will guide her, yet under the watchful eye of a loving mother. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem too utopic, either: just real, and joyous.

Each page has a different piece of motherly advice; the daughter’s response is reflected more in the pictures than the words: the eyes of the little girl are alight with mischief, her body expressing the energy she exudes. I’ll leave you to imagine the disgust on the girl’s face when, broccoli on fork, she tells us: “My mother always tells me, / ‘Eat those veggies on your plate,’ and I know if I chose not to, / my dessert will have to wait.”

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