If only mothers were like cars, children could upgrade to ``nicer, better'' models at the first sign of dissatisfaction. Such is the young protagonist's wish in this quietly reassuring picture book. After a trying day that begins with Max running out of his favorite breakfast cereal and ends with him having his hair shampooed, the boy expresses his frustration and displeasure by announcing he wants a new mother (``You are definitely the worst mother in the whole world''). Responding to her son's complaints, Mama counters them with comforting words--a tactic that makes Max reconsider his decision. Russo's ( The Line Up Book ; A Visit to Oma ) bold gouache paintings, in a cool palette of purples, blues and maroon highlighted with pastel shades, provide eye-catching contrast throughout; scenes are warmed by an abundance of background detail. Though the human figures here are a bit stiff, their faces depict a range of emotion--as, overall, does this unexpectedly touching story. Ages 3-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-- Max is tired of having his mother say ``no'' to everything he wants to do. When he threatens to trade her in for a mother who lets him wear dirty shirts, who never forgets to buy Chunky-O's cereal, and who hates string beans as much as he does, his mother sagely comments that she would never trade him in. Envisioning a store with ``trade-in'' boys, Max decides to give Mom another chance. While the story is slight, Max's feelings will strike a chord with many children, and Russo handles the text with sensitivity and skill. The illustrations capture the coziness of a loving home and draw readers into the story. While this tale lacks the verve of Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Atheneum, 1972), the books would combine nicely for a winning story time. --Lori A. Janick, Parkwood Elementary School, Pasadena, TX
There's a ring of truth in Russo's exploration of the angry feelings children experience when mothers don't give them their way. Max is having a terrible day: Mama says his favorite shirt is too dirty to wear; she makes him eat his green beans; and she'll only read his beloved pirate book once at bedtime. He's ready to trade her in--till the thought that he might end up with a mom who would trade "him" in makes him change his mind. Russo's paintings, which combine sturdy, uncomplicated shapes and interesting patterns, wrap a sense of order and homeyness around Max's turbulent feelings; their deep, flat colors function to ease the tensions in a scenario children and parents will easily recognize.