Divorced (or otherwise single) parents intending to remarry might want to share this debut picture book with their children. With young Maddy as her narrator, Benjamin compassionately depicts a child's fear of losing a parent's love to another person. At first, Maddy lives alone with her artist mother; they sip hot tea together each morning, and Maddy plays in her backyard ``secret jungle'' while her mom paints. Then a third wheel, Simon, disrupts their twosome. Though Maddy likes the newcomer, she advises her mother against marrying him ("`Oh, I really don't think you should,' I said. ... And that was the end of that, I thought''). But when her mother goes against her wishes, Maddy decides to reciprocate with wedding plans of her own. Benjamin's loosely rendered watercolor-and-ink illustrations have a homey, carefree quality that complements the narrative's reassuring tone. While the story's resolution seems a trifle pat, Benjamin's mother-daughter exchanges have the ring of truth, and Maddy's imaginative scheme displays an especially childlike charm. Ages 3-8. (May)
- Jessica Deutsch
Change is hard and a mother's love is precious to a little girl. But Maddy and her mom show us that nothing gets in the way of that love-not even if the mom gets married to a wonderful man named Simon. As Maddy works out her feelings about the new person in her family's life, she begins to see that Simon might just make her sky a little bluer, her dreams a little more enchanting, and her parties a little brighter. An impressively handled message about the constancy of a parent's commitment, and the excitement of new relationships.
"My mom and I lived in a little house with willow trees growing in the garden. Every morning I'd jump into her bed and we'd sip hot tea and talk about all kinds of things. Just the two of us." Enter Simon, a young man who takes a fancy to Maddy's mom and asks her to marry him. Maddy doesn't kick and scream--that's not her style. She simply informs her mother that she, too, is getting married. Benjamin's delightful picture-book debut is light and humorous without overlooking the strong emotions that children feel when a parent remarries. The watercolors abound with lively patterns and bright colors, but the faces of the characters, consisting of squiggly, black ink lines (and dots for eyes) are devoid of expression. Still, this is an appealing title, and given the increasing number of single-parent families and the absence of good material on the subject, it should be in great demand.