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When Mama Retires

When Mama Retires

by Karen Ackerman

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Many women--and some enlightened men--will attest to the fact that running a household and caring for children is an often thankless, full-time job. In this flashback to World War II Mama considers ``retiring'' from housework and taking on a factory job--``I could be a riveter,'' she tells her three sons. Charley, Henry and Will are a bit frightened by this proposition, so they offer little resistance as Mama shows them ``how to do some things around here.'' Ackerman's ( Song and Dance Man ) admirable heroine cuts a clear figure of a feminist at odds with her role in society. Mama honestly expresses her frustration but, reassuringly, never loses control of her emotions. Grace's wispy, pastel illustrations--reminiscent of fashion design sketches--considerably lighten the tone of the story, though at the same time their pallid tones and degree of stylization detract from its intensity. Ultimately, this is a satisfying--if somewhat pat--lesson in pitching in to do one's share. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-- The confusing mix of emotions that children feel during wartime is warmly described in this first-person narrative set during World War II. The plot is straightforward: father is a soldier, mama is thinking of ``retiring'' from housework to join the war effort as a riveter, and that leaves the three boys to take care of the domestic scene. So they (and readers) follow Mama through the various chores, thus missing all the fun of playing with the other kids. Ackerman conveys the fears, the frustrations, the happiness, and the values of this strong family. Well-placed comments add spice to the story. This rich snapshot of 1940s America is finely enhanced by Grace's deceptively simple pastel and ink illustrations, drawn with what appears to be a casual sweep of the pen. The figures are highly stylized with narrow feet and hands, and the pages are detailed with period wallcoverings and objects. The pictures are a perfect match to the prose. One can quickly spot the differences in the music, games, toys, and technology between then and now, but the similarities are also obvious. Styles have changed, but the substance of family remains constant. --Lee Bock, Brown County Public Libraries, Green Bay, WI

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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