Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Mama Outside Mama Inside

Years ago Patty and I read a great article in Orion magazine by a new mother who had watched a nest of birds outside her window throughout her pregnancy and felt a sort of bond with the mother bird. I don't know if this author read that article, but it's a great theme, and I'm glad it's now in a children's book.

Mama Outside, Mama Inside, by Diana Hutts Aston and illustrated by Susan Gaber, is a gentle story, which juxtaposes two mothers, one bird and one human, bringing new lives into the word.

Aston shows how the mothers both prepare, one building a nest while the other sets up a nursery, both with the father’s help. One baby cries “Cheep-cheep-cheep!”, the other, “Waaa-waaa-waaa!” After the babies arrive, the mothers feed them. Eventually the two families take notice of each other.

The language is gentle and the parallel structure of the text stays true throughout.

Gaber’s gentle acrylics match the soft tone so well that at first the pictures could be mistaken for watercolor. The layout complements the text perfectly. Scenes showing the two mothers together in one frame fill the page; only pages with separate images have white space. The introductory pages pan into the setting, and the end pages pan out, with the birds flying off into the distance.

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