"Banks' short, poetic words build a mood of cozy anticipation with bouncing rhythms...while Bogacki finds cheerful chaos in both the bustling city and the warm indoors, evoking the scenes in rich colors and his signature, faintly blurred, childlike style." Booklist
"Simply patterned text repeating 'Mama's coming home' speaks directly to the young child, for whom a parent's return is an everyday delight." Horn Book Magazine
This window into the parallel domestic and working worlds of two busy parents provides an upbeat look at contemporary life. As Mama closes up her pet shop and makes her way home through the hectic city, navigating the subway and storm-drenched sidewalks, Papa rolls the dough for pizza, feeds the baby, sidesteps the pets and negotiates with the boys to do their chores. The text rolls across the bottom of the page in gentle waves (the refrain "Mama's coming home" appears in larger, bolder font), complementing the quirky perspectives, slants and tilts in illustrations by Bogacki (previously paired with Banks for The Turtle and the Hippopotamus). The father's household sphere occupies the left page of each spread, the mother's trek the right; in the conclusion, the two sides merge around the dinner table. Bogacki's family members have a doll-like appeal, with bright orange blotches on their cheeks, dots for eyes and blue or orange hair that stands on end like short pieces of yarn. Banks's verse is not always precise ("Boys have got the table made./ Laid with plates and silverware") but for the most part, her cheerful non sequiturs capture the amusing chaos of family life ("Boys are picking up their toys./ The cat is licking doggy's ears./ Footsteps hurry up the walk./ Mama's coming home"). Together Banks and Bogacki not only acknowledge the hard work involved in end-of-the-day routines, but recreate the pleasures of the payoff as a family comes together for dinner. Ages 3-6. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Banks and Bogacki have previously won awards individually, but this multifaceted gem should score for the team. The urgency and rhythm of the prose read like poetry. When Papa announces that Mama is coming home, all of the children and even the pets respond with enthusiasm. Mama appears to be leaving work and each event, from closing the shop, to crossing the street and getting on the subway, struggling with her umbrella, and finally arriving at her front steps throbs with anticipation as it moves her closer to husband and children. Suspense and delight motivate family members as each eagerly carries out his routine to welcome the lady of the house. The pace is almost breathtaking as family members work as a team. Bogacki's illustrations have the simple quality of appearing to be done by a child while waiting for mom's arrival, lending an air of authenticity to the whole work. Warm-and-cozy fairly rustles on each page. This picture book would doubtless be a favorite among pre-schoolers who have working mothers. A reassuring volume for families in which mom is going to work for the first time. 2003, Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux,
K-Gr 2-Mom is at work; dad is at home with the three kids, the dog, and the cat; and everyone is excited about meeting up at the end of the day. The illustrations show the father and children on the left side of the spread, and the mother in her travels on the right. Sometimes the two mesh together seamlessly, as in the spread where the children are shown playing on the floor with their toy trains while their mother is running down the stairs at the train station. More often than not, however, the book feels jagged, with sentences such as "Boys have got the table made. Laid with plates and silverware. Eager feet are hastening. Mama's coming home." The tepid illustrations fail to breathe life into this scenario, appearing too cartoonish and stilted. There isn't much difference in the expressions shown on the people in the background and those of the family members, leaving readers with a one-dimensional view of the subjects. While the concept of dad at home and mom returning from a full day of work is a timely one, ultimately this book is an additional purchase for larger collections.-Lisa Gangemi Kropp, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
The author of Night Worker (2000, illustrated by Georg Hallensleben) delineates another unconventional, if not necessarily uncommon, domestic arrangement. While Mom closes up shop and heads wearily for the subway, Dad puts on an apron, feeds dog and baby, then prepares dinner (pizza, but still) while chivvying two older children to pick up their toys and set the table. Using a muted palette and drawing in a simple, childlike style, Bogacki (The Turtle and the Hippopotamus, p. 561, etc.) alternates domestic scenes with views of city streets and crowds of commuters; the parallel plotlines converge at last at a dinner table surrounded by smiling faces. Papa's bright blue hair sounds an odd visual note, and Banks, usually careful with words, first conjures a sidewalk that "throbs with footsteps," then later describes the baby's legs as "churning like a riverboat"-forced images at best. Still, children with stay-at-home fathers will see a reflection of their own family patterns and rhythms here, and to many readers the idea that parental roles are not fixed may come as a revelation. (Picture book. 6-8)