My Mother Is So Smart

( 1 )


Mothers are so amazing—is there anything they can't do? This little boy's mom is so smart she can make the perfect Halloween costume, drive a truck, dress like a movie star, dance the polka, make popsicles, teach the whole neighborhood to sing and even stand on her head.

Through the heartfelt words of a little boy awed by all the things his mom can do, this glowing celebration of mothers has a universal appeal that will make young readers ...

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Mothers are so amazing—is there anything they can't do? This little boy's mom is so smart she can make the perfect Halloween costume, drive a truck, dress like a movie star, dance the polka, make popsicles, teach the whole neighborhood to sing and even stand on her head.

Through the heartfelt words of a little boy awed by all the things his mom can do, this glowing celebration of mothers has a universal appeal that will make young readers everywhere want to share it with their own moms.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
This little boy's mother is so smart, "[s]he always knew when to change my diaper." She also dresses him in a snowsuit in the winter, makes "the best cookies" and, "when it's cold us breakfast that makes us warm." In most respects, this Supermom is Everymom, and her son's awed appreciation is winning in its ingenuousness. But, according to the jacket bio, dePaola's mother had some specific smarts. "She knows how to drive my grandfather's old delivery truck." And when little Tomie's teacher tells him he has to wait outside after school, he has just the right riposte. The artist's characteristic borders give the book a cozy intimacy that allows this petite memoir to connect with its modern audience. For a holiday too often characterized by cold-hearted calculation, this sweetly honest offering hits just the right note. (Picture book. 3-5)
Publishers Weekly
A young narrator praises his mother for such maternal deeds as knowing when to change his diaper when he was a baby, baking “the best” cookies, and serving a warm breakfast when it's cold out. More diverting are revelations of her spunkiness: she teaches him to dance the polka, takes him to school in grandfather's antique truck, and shows kids how to write their initials in the air with sparklers. Pastel borders frame spare, warm portraits of mother and son: as the mother faces readers, fresh Popsicles at the ready, she resembles no less then a modern-day saint. Ages 3-5. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Sheilah Egan
Having written extensively about families in the past, DePaola now presents his homage to mothers. The book is dedicated to his mother, Flossie, and "all the other smart mothers in the world." We see a young child and his mother in a variety of scenes, all drawn in the award-winning style that is so famously "Tomie." Right from the earliest days, the baby recognizes that his mother is smart because she knows "when to change [his] diaper" and when he is hungry. Told in the first-person from the child's point of view as he grows into a school-aged child, we learn that his mother knows how to dress him for cold weather and let him explore outside. Later, he appreciates her baking skills and willingness to interact with all of the neighborhood children. She teaches everyone to sing songs and be "VERY careful" using sparklers on the Fourth of July. One Halloween, she turns him "into a bird." The costume is adorable, and the child wears it with pride. When he describes how "she makes our house the best house at Christmas," he adds that he and his father help. Her versatility astonishes him, and he is impressed that she can drive his grandfather's old delivery truck, sometimes even taking him to school in it. It is obvious that the narrator is impressed that she can "change into a movie star" when he sees her dressed to go out for the evening with his tuxedoed father. Her exuberance is portrayed as she teaches him to dance the polka and in his telling the principal of his school that "she can stand on her head." The blurb on the jacket cover explains that the generalized scenes in the book were inspired by DePaolo's mother but the scene with the principal "actually happened." If only all mothers and children could have the loving relationship depicted here. Perfect for Mother's Day or any day when children and adults share stories. Reviewer: Sheilah Egan
School Library Journal
PreS-K—DePaola offers a portrait of a little boy and his doting mother, who bakes cookies, sews Halloween costumes, and can even stand on her head. Each page offers one of her skills, with soft, acrylic paintings illustrating the full range of her abilities. This story acts as more of a nostalgic picture album of dePaola's childhood than as a fully developed story, but the simple sweetness of the vignettes both in text and illustration present a heartfelt tribute to one fabulous woman. While the story is an endearing celebration of one specific parent, it's unlikely to resonate with many of today's children.—Sarah Townsend, Norfolk Public Library, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142425367
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 3/7/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 554,061
  • Age range: 3 - 5 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola ( is the acclaimed author and/or illustrator of more that 200 books for children.


Born in 1934 into a large extended Irish/Italian family, Tomie dePaola received his art education at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute and the California College of Arts & Crafts. Although he always wanted to create children's books, he spent several years applying his talents to the fields of education, theater, and graphic design. In the mid-1960s, he received his first commission to illustrate a children's science book. A year later, he published his first original picture book, The Wonderful Dragon of Timlin. Today, he is one of the most prolific -- and beloved -- author/illustrators in children's literature.

In addition to illustrating stories by other writers, DePaola has created artwork for collections of poetry, nursery rhymes, holiday traditions, and folk and religious tales. But, he is most famous for books of his own creation, especially Strega Nona ("Grandma Witch"), the beloved story of an old woman who uses her magical powers to help the people of her small Italian village. Written in 1975, this Caldecott Honor winner is still delighting children today.

DePaola admits that there are strong autobiographical elements in many of his books (Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs, The Art Lesson, Stagestruck), but nowhere is this more evident than in 26 Fairmount Avenue, a series of charming chapter books based on his Connecticut childhood. Taking its name from the address of his family home, the series captures the experiences and emotions of a young boy growing up in the late 1930s and early '40s in the shadow of World War II. The first book in the series received a 1999 Newbery Honor Award.

DePaola and his work have been recognized with many honors, including the Smithsonian Medal, the Kerlan Award for "singular attainment in children's literature," the Catholic Library Association's Regina Medal, and several awards from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. In 1999, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts bestowed on dePaola the Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award for the body of his work.

Good To Know

  • Tomie dePaola's name is pronounced Tommy de POW-la.

  • Between college and graduate school, dePaola spent a short time in a Benedictine monastery before determining that religious life was not for him.

  • Using a combination of watercolor, tempera, and acrylic, dePaola's artistic style is best described as folk-traditional.

  • DePaola's favorite painters and strongest artistic influences are Matisse, Giotto, and Ben Shahn.
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