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My Mother's Secret Life

My Mother's Secret Life

by Rebecca Emberley
A young daughter, never dreaming that Mother does anything more than clean the house and take care of her, begins to see things differently.


A young daughter, never dreaming that Mother does anything more than clean the house and take care of her, begins to see things differently.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Emberley ("Three Cool Kids") recounts a girl's glittery fantasy of the big top, where the trapeze artist hides a secret identity. The story opens as the narrator, her cat and her dog have just made a royal mess at home. "Holding her head, my mother said, `Enough. This place looks like a three-ring circus!' " After Mom stomps off to her room, the narrator retaliates by painting the refrigerator. She then takes a nap and dreams about attending an actual three-ring circus. The scene turns nightmarish when the dreamer angers a fellow circus-goer, but calm returns when a masked performer whisks the girl to safety. " `Mother!' I cried. `Who else?' said the lady." When the girl wakes, all is forgiven. If the text is disjointed, energy erupts from the dazzling illustrations, rendered in color-saturated, mixed-media collage. Emberley adroitly assembles cut-paper shapes and uses novel props like mesh fabric and tinsel. Metallic surfaces gleam without glaring, shadows peek from between each handcrafted layer, and readers practically feel the textures of fuzzy feathers and plastic beads. This could inspire some cut-and-paste projects for those days when the house seems overtaken by Barnum and Bailey.
School Library Journal
When the narrator's mother gets fed up with the calamities of everyday life and retreats to her room, her napping daughter dreams herself at a circus. When the child spills her popcorn on a stranger in the crowd, her mother appears on a flying trapeze to rescue her from the man's wrath. This may seem the antithesis of Max's banishment and escape into fantasy in "Where the Wild Things Are", but the resolution of constant maternal love is just as reassuring. Emberley's collages, composed of feathers, beads, netting, glitter, and fancy papers provide appropriate color and glitz. Good fun. Miriam Lang Budin, Mt. Kisco Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
A mother's exasperated shout of "This place looks like a three-ring circus!" borders on the literal in this ambiguous concoction in which a young girl's daytime nap leads to dreams of the circus. When her mother goes upstairs to take a break, a young girl dreams of acrobats and clowns, bareback riders, and a lady on a flying trapeze who rescues the child. A few imprecise clues tweak readers into questioning what's real and what's imagined: The mother carries a mysterious black hat upstairs with her; a lot of overheard thumping and bumping ensues. The story relies heavily on the suggestion of the title, for within the pages there's no mention of the mother's secret life. That the girl's cat has the smell of popcorn on his breath at the end of the fantasy is the only indication that the circus events were not just a dream. Emberley arrays the fantasy realm with bright feathers, glitter, beads, tinsel, and neon-colored mesh netting; children won't miss the details of a mother's sparkling nail polish, a broken string of pearls, or the sequined tip of a clown's shoe.

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.33(w) x 10.31(h) x 0.36(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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