Mothers and kids will spot themselves in this multicultural board book!

posted by Shweta Sharan, May 07, 2019

Mama Do You Love Me? by Barbara M Joosse is a lovely board book about an Inuit child who keeps testing to see how much her mother loves her, by imagining extreme and sometimes funny situations! We love the book for its diversity and its adventurous setting. 

My daughter and I absolutely loved Barbara M Joosse's book, Mama Do You Love Me? I think it's such a beautiful and important pick for an infant and a toddler. The book is about an Inuit mother and her daughter who constantly keeps testing her -- would you love me if I did something bad, or something scary? What if I ran away? The mother says that she would be angry or sad but she would still love her child.

My daughter and I had a lovely time laughing at the extremes to which the daughter would go in order to 'test' her mother's boundaries. My little one understood that even if a mother was angry or upset at her child's behavior, she will always love her baby. All children test a parent's boundaries, so it is interesting and amusing to see it on paper!  

A diverse voice

For starters, I absolutely loved that the book is about an Inuit and her daughter. This brings in a diverse perspective, and vocabulary! We fell in love with the words -- Ptarmigan eggs, mukluks, musk-ox! They bring in different sights, sounds, feelings, and an entirely new landscape into the child's mind. It is very crucial for board books to be this diverse -- it really has a great impact on a child's ability to connect and to understand so many people, cultures and ideas. A bankable skill for the future! By exposing children to such books early on, we are helping them think beyond definitions and boundaries.

It is very crucial for board books to be this diverse -- it really has a great impact on a child's ability to connect and to understand so many people, cultures and ideas. A bankable skill for the future! By exposing children to such books early on, we are helping them think beyond definitions and boundaries.

As a child, I'd read books that had no mention of my culture and when I would read books that had Indian words, it would feel odd. I would want to only read Western stories. By introducing children to books with different cultures and voices, we are helping them appreciate their identities and multiple others, instead of only the Western ones. How much more comfortable would I have felt in my skin, if I had read books like this as a child! The details in the illustrations add to the adventurous setting!

It embodies the special mother-child relationship

We loved how the mother describes her love for her child. I'll love you until the umiak flies into the darkness, till the stars turn to fish in the sky, and the puffin howls at the moon." We also love how patiently and cleverly the mother answers every question, and how clearly she outlines her love for her child. We also notice that the child is half-teasing half-earnest and we love the tone!

The child also has a huge imagination like all children her age. She asks her mother what she would do if she, the daughter, ran away or sang with wolves? What if she turned into a polar bear and chased her mother? Would she still love her? The mother then says, "Then I'd be surprised and scared but still inside the bear you would be you and I would love you."

We love how the book pays tribute to this special bond! 

It's great to read out and to listen to!

Board books are primarily meant for infants and toddlers, who have a pure and clean slate when it comes to language -- they are primed to learn different words, sounds, and expressions!  My daughter loved it when I read this book out to her. Pronouncing words like 'Ptarmigan eggs' or 'What if I put salmon in your parka, ermine in your mittens and lemmings in your mukluks" really added to the magic! There is something wonderful about listening to diverse expressions. It really soothes you and develops your ear for languages. 

I really wish that this book had been available to me as a child and my mother had read it to me. We loved the beautiful illustrations -- the detail that goes into the clothes of the mother and daughter. The flights of imagination of the child are depicted beautifully! It's a must-read for mums with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers!

This book is our pick for the May Toka Peanut Box! We pair this book with a Montessori puzzle made of cherry wood finished with organic jojoba oil. 

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