Naomi Hunter (text), Karen Erasmus (illus.), Even Mummy Cries, Empowering Resources, April 2016, pp48., $17 (pbk) ISBN 9780994501042
I’m not particularly fond of books with messages. I prefer to read wonderful stories to my kids. Having said that, I can see they have a place and I was pleasantly surprised by this book. If you know a child who has a mum with depression, is going through a rough patch, or just sometimes cries, this book is well worth sharing with them. It certainly won’t do them any harm.
The story starts off much like any other children’s book about parental love.The child’s voice portrays positive sentiments about time spent with mum. The author subtly lets the reader know that the mum is great with her kids, and she values her children. There’s typical family craziness when kids won’t get ready for the day and run amok – something I’m sure all families can relate to. I certainly can! Then comes the sensitive part – the child talks about mum being sad, crying and how that makes the kids in the family feel. It’s direct – bravely acknowledging feelings of sadness, helplessness and fear – but it’s not too heavy. And it’s only a few pages. The ending is bright, inspiring hope, and reinforcing that a mother’s sadness doesn’t affect her love for her children. That love never changes.
The pictures, by Victorian illustrator Karen Erasmus, are delightful, perfectly capturing the love, fun and chaos of family life. There’s playfulness and whimsy too. And I love the picture of mum in the kitchen looking overwhelmed as the kids wreck havoc around her. Depressed or not, I think most mums can relate to that.
Even Mummy Cries has been longlisted for the 2017 Australian Book Industry Award’s Small Publisher’s Children’s Book of the Year (winners to be announced on 1 May 2017).
Reviewed by Carissa Mason