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Before I Was Your Mother
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Before I Was Your Mother

by Kathryn Lasky, LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)

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To Katie, it seems as if her mother has always been her mother, with her bills to pay and to-do lists--but in fact, her mother was once a little girl, just like Katie! Celebrate the joy of being a girl and the special love that mothers and daughters share.


To Katie, it seems as if her mother has always been her mother, with her bills to pay and to-do lists--but in fact, her mother was once a little girl, just like Katie! Celebrate the joy of being a girl and the special love that mothers and daughters share.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Beautifully written . . . Promises to become a bedtime favorite."--School Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
"You know," says a woman, as she peers over her reading glasses with mock solemnity at her young daughter, "I wasn't always your mother." So begins this well-pitched proof that no mother was born yesterday. Subtly connecting the past and the present, Lasky's (Lunch Bunnies; She's Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head!) baby-boomer narrator delivers a series of freewheeling reminiscences about best friends and pets, games and mischief, and beloved possessions. "I wasn't always your mother, who carries a purse full of bills to pay and wears shoes that won't hurt my feet," says Mother. "Once I was a little girl, who carried secret stuff in a green velvet bag and wanted a pair of bright red patent-leather shoes more than anything." Pham (Whose Shoes?) tints watercolor depictions of the mother's vignettes in sepia, but she understands that her readers may have little interest in the evocation of an era, and keeps a sharp focus on action. When Mother recalls fighting with her brother over a birthday cake's frosting roses, Pham frames the composition at a child's height and zeroes in on the siblings' self-righteous stances. Also acknowledging that the audience will ultimately want to know "What's in it for me?" Lasky's answer is just right: even as a girl, the mother "dreamed of having her own little girl to love." Ages 3-7. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Children are always curious about what their parents were like when they were small. Lasky presents this as a conversation between a mother and her daughter, Katie. She says, "I wasn't always your mother, who knows how to...fix broken things....Once I broke the china cat into a million pieces, and my mother glued it back together perfectly." She talks about the things she did with her best friend, Ruby, and her dog, Eileen. She concludes by saying that when she was little she "dreamed of having her own little girl to love." The actions of the mother-as-little-girl show her as a real person: one who laughed and sang and danced with her best friend, who broke treasured objects and quarreled with her brother. Readers can distinguish between present and past for white background accompanies the current day, while tan tones seem to wash over the reminiscences. The bulldog, Eileen, adds much humor to the illustrations with her expressions. This would work well in a storyhour about mothers or Mother's Day. It just might encourage children who are reading this with their mothers to ask them for stories about their youth. 2003, Harcourt,
— Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A beautifully written, lovingly executed trip down memory lane. Sepia-toned endpapers at the beginning of the book introduce readers to a freckle-faced girl in pigtails; endpapers at the conclusion feature colorful images of her daughter at the same age, years later. In between, the quiet refrain-"I wasn't always your mother"-gently reminds readers of the child that this adult narrator used to be. Pham's watercolor, pen-and-ink, and collage illustrations use warm tones throughout, but rely primarily on soft shades of brown and tan for the mother's childhood memories and brighter, crisper hues for those of her as a grown woman with her daughter. This fond tribute to loving mothers and daughters everywhere promises to become a bedtime favorite.-Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A delicious tale with loads of girl appeal is satisfying for mothers and daughters (and brothers) alike. A dark-haired, freckle-faced mom tells her blonde daughter how, before she was her mother, she had a best friend named Ruby, a dog named Eileen, and a mom who could suspend fruit in Jell-O. She and Ruby loved to make noise, singing while they skated down the sidewalk, or tap-dancing on garbage can lids. And she loved shoes, even wearing her favorite cowboy boots to cousin Sylvia's wedding. "I wasn't always your mother," letting her eat frosting roses off her birthday cake. When Mom was a girl, she told her brother that flowers were for girls so that she could eat the frosting roses off his birthday cake. She named her doll and her teddy bear and her velvet seal Katie, but now, "I am your mother, and you are my only Katie." Pham (Which Hat Is That?, 2002, etc.), whose rich, homey watercolors are as gemütlich as could be, has done wonderful things with the faces. Readers can see that honey-haired Katie closely resembles her golden-haired grandmother, and that all three generations have the same wide, bowed mouth. Mom-as-a-kid wears braids, as does her best friend Ruby, who is black, and the contrasts and likenesses between those two girls are adorable. Love, comfort, and joy spill from these pages in sweet waves. It will no doubt inspire lots of similar stories in its readers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.17(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

KATHRYN LASKY's many books for young people have received such honors as the Parents' Choice Award, and a Newbery Honor. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

LEUYEN PHAM is the illustrator of several award-winning picture books. A graduate of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, she lives in San Francisco, California.

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