I Love You Mom
I Love You Mom
This book highlights the many moms of the natural world who are devoted to their little ones. Some travel great distances to find the perfect food for a fast growing chick; some teach the vital skills a baby will need to grow into a successful adult, while others stop at nothing to defend their precious young from all possible dangers. (From the “Introduction”, p. 5)
Nine months may seem like a long time, but just imagine being pregnant for almost two years! After a pregnancy lasting 22 months, an elephant mother must be overjoyed to meet her new baby. They will stay together for around 16 years, while the mother teaches her little one everything it needs to know about life.
I Love You Mom briefly describes how 45 mammal, bird, reptile and insect mothers care for their young. Each creature is treated in a pair of facing pages with one containing the very short text while the other contains a watercolour illustration of the mother and its single or multiple offspring (with a few instances of the many offspring, such as those of the Canada Goose, spilling over onto the text page).
There is no organized structure to the book, and its “critter” contents range from the likely familiar, such as lions, giraffes, squirrels, cows and pigs, to the less well-known, like the Gray Langur, Strawberry Poison-Dart Frog and the Japanese Red Bug. The text portions vary in how much their content reveals the extent of a mother’s “love” for its young.
On the one hand, the Black Rhinoceros mother devotes herself fully to raising her young.
Single parenthood is a challenge, but it creates a unique relationship with lots of joy. Each rhino mom raises her baby by herself, and her love is so strong that she won’t mate again until her little one becomes fully independent, a process that can take two to three years.
But, on the other hand, the text for the Honey Bee entry seems somewhat distant from the book’s claimed purpose.
There are many different ways to build a family, and for honey bees, families revolve around the queen bee. The female workers collaborate to protect the queen and attend to her every need so she can focus on laying eggs.
A few of the entries, such as those for the Mountain Gorilla, the Emperor Penguin and the Greater Flamingo, do acknowledge the male’s role in the “parenting” process.
Ignoring the question of whether or not maternal instinct is synonymous with the emotion of love in the animal and insect world, identifying an audience for I Love You Mom is a challenge. Temperley’s illustrations are most attractive and would be highly appealing even to a preschool crowd; however, the text, a miscellany of informative facts, is written for an older audience. Though the individual entries are both entertaining and enlightening reading, the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.