My Mum Makes is a cheerful and colourful early childhood picture book released by Lothian/Hachette in 2012. It is a walkthrough rather than a narrative, and on each opening the focalising child explains the things that her mum can make and do. Mum makes her get up in the morning, makes a mess with her in the kitchen, makes artwork with her in the afternoon, and so on. There is no narrative arc or problem to be solved. Instead, the text reaches its climax in the final pages as the reader discovers mum has ‘made’ the most important thing of all — a baby.
Silver foil and embossing on the front cover combined with bold colours and mixed media make this a book children will take off the shelf. Texidor’s striking patterns are the book’s strongest feature, and these patterns reappear throughout the illustrations. For example, in the first opening the pattern on the dropped capital M is mirrored in the girl’s dress for the day. The raindrops outside the window then reappear in the thirteenth opening as the drop cap and additionally as a background. Children will enjoy exploring these patterns throughout the text. (Astute readers may also recognise many of these patterns from Texidor’s previous picture book, A Simply Spectacular Hat written for the NSW Cancer Council.)
No author is ascribed to this book and the text is attributed only to the publishing house. The language lacks flair, but the simple and straightforward text is nonetheless appropriate for young children. The rhythm is unfortunately clunky at times, requiring some effort on the part of the reader (who is most likely reading aloud) to make the rhyming phrases match.
Despite its appealing cover, this book will not appeal to all families. It represents only one type of mum, and she is heavily stereotyped. This pregnant stay-at-home-mum does housework in heels, bakes, tends a garden, enjoys messy crafts and coordinates play dates. That said, it does celebrate the bond between mother and child, and places the emphasis on their existing relationship rather than on the impending change.
In conclusion, My Mum Makes is bright, fun and useful for young children preparing to welcome a sibling into the family. What it lacks in depth it makes up for in colour, with Texidor’s signature prints as the standout feature.
Catherine Oehlman is better known online as SquiggleMum, and combines a mother’s heart with a teacher’s mind and a writer’s hand. You can read more from her here. She is currently studying for her Masters in Children’s Literature.