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Philip Dey Eastman, better known to many readers as P.D. Eastman, wrote and illustrated Are You My Mother? The book has sold millions of copies, is available as easy reading board and cloth books, videos, plays and has been translated to several other languages including Spanish. P.D. Eastman worked at the Walt Disney Studios and the Warner Brothers cartoon unit prior to induction in the Army in 1942. He was assigned to the unit that produced the Private Snafu series and was in the company of many now famous writers and cartoonists. Other titles by P.D. Eastman are Sam and the Firefly, Go, Dog. Go! and A Fish Out of Water.
Are You My Mother? was published in 1960 by Random House and features a bird of nondescript species on a search to find his mother. Mother bird feels her egg moving beneath her and decides she needs to get something for her baby to eat when it hatches. She leaves the nest and while away, the bird hatches and then decides that he must find his mother. He cannot fly and falls out of the nest and literally walks right by mother bird as his search begins. Baby bird is introduced to a number of characters, living and non-living that are NOT his mother. Exasperated he says to himself,
“I did have a mother,” said the baby bird. “I know I did. I have to find her. I will. I WILL!”
A longer read than many books at this level with 72 pages, young readers find the character endearing and the search captivating. Some are put off by the lack of full color but the bird’s determination made this story one of School Library Journal’s Top 100 Picture Books (2012). I started this collage several months ago and I would be remiss if I did not say it took on new meaning of late when George Floyd called out for his mother as he took his last breaths of life. An underlying theme of having a mother has lead me to some very interesting discussions with my students about their mothers. I’ve had students share that they have two mothers, or their grandmother or father is their mother too. Mother is a biological being but the essence is that person that cares for you. The importance of someone in their life that serves this roll. To parents and teachers that read this book with young children it can be a very playful book, but also be aware that for some children talking about a mother can cause some conflict.
NOTE: It’s been a long year since my last post and collage. I had both my hips replaced and standing, sitting and bending over my art table was something I had to ease into. Thanks to my ace surgeon and physical therapist I am doing better than ever. The year was made even longer with Covid and it's been a little frustrating to not be able to participate physically in the Black Lives Matter protests but I stand with the protestors, "Black Lives Matter."