January 27, 2014

When Mama Goes to Work

by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Illustrated by Jessica Phillips
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
32 pp.
Ages 1-5
October 2013

We know that, in these days of economic instability, many children are part of households in which parents are out of the house at work each day.  It doesn't matter whether it is a single-parent household, one with both father and mother, or even one with two mothers–bills must be paid, careers to be realized and passions to be developed, and contributions to be made outside of the home.  As adults, we understand why we go to work, but do children always understand this? 

In When Mama Goes to Work, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch ensures that they do understand, specifically that the days of working mothers and children are not that dissimilar.  Their days start the same, in preparation for the day: dressing appropriately, making lunches, tidying themselves, and packing their bags.  At work and school, the similarities continue, as they do when Mama and child are reunited.  Regardless of their day's activities, Mama and child know that they are each in the other's thoughts and hearts, and that when the "work" day is over, they will again be together.

This positive and reassuring message, which also communicates the variety of roles mothers may play within the community e.g., construction worker, medical professional, business person and care giver, is enhanced by illustrator Jessica Phillips' cheerful round-faced children and mothers.  All children will see themselves in her characters who range in their skin and hair colours, in gender, nationality, and activities.  When Mama Goes to Work is an inclusive story of everyday routines that may be unfamiliar and may seem mysterious but are reassuringly comparable and interconnected.

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