HEADLEY, Gail (text) Jacqui Conias (illus.) Mummy, Who am I? Watson Ferguson & Co, 2014 unpaged $16.95 ISBN 9781925046274
This picture book about identity for young readers explores a mother’s unconditional love for their child. A child questions the pet names given to them by their mother, wondering about their current and future identity – only to be reassured that ‘you are my child and I love you very much’. Even given this sweet refrain, this is quite a difficult title to enjoy. Heavy dialogue, lack of action and awkward grammar and punctuation disguise what is a lovely, simple message. Where this could be at least slightly remedied through use of engaging, active artwork the illustrator has instead created a rather passive, oddly framed mother and daughter team. They are rather dark and dull, and in my opinion unlikely to engage a child. I find it unsettling that despite being non-naturalistic, these illustrations still seem to show both mother and daughter with clearly made-up red lips, rouged cheeks and darkened eyes. With the right illustrations and a close edit, this book could have the potential to be quite a sweet, simple bedtime story. As it stands, it is not a title that I would recommend.
reviewed by Meg Whelan