Because Your Mommy Loves You. by Andrew Clements, illustrated by R.W. Alley. April 3, 2012. 32 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN: 9780547255224
Because Your Mommy Loves You is the recently published companion to 2005's Because Your Daddy Loves You written by Andrew Clements and illustrated by R.W. Alley.
Each page depicts a mother and son doing various daily tasks. The text provides a hypothetical scenario ("When you get lost in the camping store, and you call out, Mommy!"), suggests what Mom might do ("your mommy could say, it's all right, I'm coming to find you!"), then states that Mom does not do this, but instead does some other, better thing ("She calls your name, and you follow the sound of her voice.")
Though I think the intention of this book is positive, I'm puzzled by its approach. I think Clements is trying to suggest that parents are more effective when they encourage kids to do things on their own, rather than just taking over and doing things for them. What's weird, though, is this negative language that basically says, "Hey, look how much worse your mom could be." I felt very unsettled reading the text and thought that even the most positive sentiment sounded negative when the sentences were structured so strangely. I don't think preschoolers - who I assume are the intended age range for this particular story - think critically about parenting. They love their parents, and for the most part, do what their parents tell them. A lesson in appreciating your mom for letting go and letting you do things yourself is nice, but is that at all interesting to a child? I doubt it. This story might bring a tear or two to a mother's eye, but I can't imagine kids finding comfort or entertainment in it.
I love Andrew Clements, and I think his chapter books do a beautiful job of portraying tenderness and emotion without becoming maudlin or cheesy. Unfortunately, this book doesn't show that same balance and care, and I won't consider reading it at story time.