It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Book Review: The Passions of “Are You My Mother?”

This is one of our very favourite books. We read it every day. It never, ever gets stale. Ever.

Thankfully, Mary, having had lots and lots of practice with it over the past twenty years (it’s a Classic), reads it with great poignancy, for this book has lots and lots of poignant moments. She reads it with much expression, too, because there are lots of expressive moments: of hope and then bitter disappointment; of bravery and staunch determination; a moment of laughter; even a moment of despair.

Here’s the moment of determination. I just love this page:

Can’t you just see the fortitude and decision radiating from this wee bird’s scrawny body? Every feather on his stick-like frame quivers with resolute vigour. You can do it, baby bird! You get out there and you FIND that momma!!

So, lots of expression. Too much expression for Arthur. As we approach the page of despair, Arthur instructs me, “Don’t use that very sad voice, Mary.”

“But I have to, lovie; the baby bird is very sad.”

“Then I will cover my ears.”

“You do that.”

Here is the moment of despair:

Pathetic, isn’t it? It culminates in him/her wailing “I want my mother!”, and when I wail it, let me tell you, it’s pathetic. I do baby bird pathos with tear-jerking poignancy.

I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I can tell you that Arthur is happy with how it turns out.

October 26, 2005 - Posted by | Arthur, books, socializing


  1. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of my wee babe calling me momma. I know the veteran mommies say I will, but I doubt it.

    Comment by ieatcrayonz | October 26, 2005 | Reply

  2. And my mother read this to me, and I read it to my son, and now my son reads it to me. I never thought about the great pathos in the illustrations, though. 🙂

    Comment by Cheryl | October 26, 2005 | Reply

  3. Crayonz: Oh, you may get tired of just how many times you hear it on a particularly demanding day, but you know what? When she’s particularly tired, my 12 year sometimes calls me “momma”, and it melts me. Just melts me. 🙂

    Cheryl: Down through the generations it goes – it was published in 1960. It’s such a great story for little ones. It’s a true classic, and has earned the distinction. And it drips, positively drips, with pathos!!

    Comment by Mary P. | October 26, 2005 | Reply

  4. I can’t believe we don’t have that in our collection right now! Well, Birthday and Christmas are coming for Ella…

    Comment by Misfit Hausfrau | October 26, 2005 | Reply

  5. Crayonz: Those mommies who say that are dumb. When my son stopped calling me Mommy I nearly died. My daughter still calls me Mommy; she tried Mom once but I asked her to never do it again.

    Comment by misfit | October 26, 2005 | Reply

  6. Hausfrau: Is Ella a December baby? My Haley is. We were living in the states when she was born, which is why I happen to know that her birthday is Pearl Harbor Day! Good thing the date has no particular significance up here – no stupid jokes to suffer every year.

    Misfit: I can never quite bring myself to say stuff like that, but you’re right. They are dumb. Who gets tired of gifts of love? They don’t deserve ’em!

    My eldest daughter (almost 20) calls me “mummy” more often that she calls me “mum”, my son (16) calls me “mom”, my younger daughter (12) calls me “Mummy”. It’s the boy again – what’s with that? I’m not sure when he made the switch, either…

    Comment by Mary P. | October 27, 2005 | Reply

  7. I can’t believe I’ve never read this but it sounds very sweet and heartwrenching.

    Comment by circe | October 27, 2005 | Reply

  8. Oh, I can relate Mary P. I really get into reading children’s books. The babies now just end up watching me and my facial expressions instead of the pictures in the book. Hopefully that will change soon!

    I really like Harry. A sensitive soul.

    Comment by Matthew | October 27, 2005 | Reply

  9. Circe: Hello and welcome. Circe… someone in Greek mythology. Someone Odysseus met, maybe? Faint bells are ringing…

    Heartwrenching, but with a happy ending. (Psst… He does find his mother in the end, but don’t tell anyone. Wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.) 🙂

    Matthew: I’m picturing two wee faces glued onto yours, while the pages flip unnoticed. Very sweet. They’ll learn to love the pages in time – because they love their daddy!

    Comment by Mary P. | October 27, 2005 | Reply

  10. […] read in this one, and though some of your more delicate flowers might find it a bit fraught if you pour on the emoting too convincingly, it’s a great […]

    Pingback by Read it again!!! « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | September 11, 2012 | Reply

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