A close friend of our family was visiting the other night and was carefully scrutinizing my five-year old’s latest artwork–our friend was being silently observed by the artist herself. Though I can readily acknowledge that I am not immune to the motherly bias of believing my children are smart, talented, and beautiful, I like to think that I can sometimes take a step back and have an objective eye.
And objectively, my eldest daughter’s creations are quite amazing. She uses her afternoon “quiet time” to create collages made of tiny pieces of colored paper, pieced together like a mosaic featuring our family under a sunny sky. The sky is made from undulating pieces of alternating blues, creating waves of atmospheric strata. Her school teacher tells me that while the end-of-year goal is for each child to draw a “five-part person” (head, arms, legs, eyes and mouth), my kiddo draws five fingers and five toes, eyelashes and eyebrows, nostrils, colorful outfits, and different hairstyles (Daddy always has hair resembling Alfalfa from Little Rascals). But my little girl is also afflicted with an almost-painful case of perfectionism, and waits somberly for my friend’s opinion.
“This is very, very good,” my friend observes in a serious tone, speaking to her as one peer to another. “I think you could become an artist when you grow up, and sell your art for money.” My daughter thanks her quietly and takes the picture up to her room.
Later that evening, my husband compliments her patience and skill as she teaches her two-year old sister to pronounce a word correctly. “Maybe you’ll be a teacher when you grow up,” he says. Instead of looking pleased, our daughter looks concerned–and a little resigned. “But I can’t be a teacher or an artist when I grow up. I’ve already decided to be a mom.”
What a pleasure it was to explain to her that she could be a teacher AND an artist AND a mom! And, as a mother, she would also be an entertainer, a chef, a nurse, a tutor, a maid, a diplomat, a cheerleader, and a therapist…all in one.
So, in honor of Mother’s Day, our May Book of the Month celebrates the many roles played by women in The Biggest Job of All, written by Harriet Ziefert and illustrated by Lauren Browne. In this sweet tale, Lulu tells her mom that she wants a really big job when she grows up. Her mother guesses at all the big, important jobs that could await little Lulu: a teacher? (Lulu is not very enthusiastic, “Teachers have to wipe noses, tie shoelaces, and fix stuck zippers.”) A doctor or a nurse? (“I don’t like medicine and I don’t like shots,” Lulu replies as her mother applies a band-aid and dispenses some medicine to her little brother).
Your reader will be tickled at the silly suggestions of what this big job could be: operating a big crane? Or washing an elephant? But when Lulu asks the all-important question, “What’s a really big job–the biggest job you know?” Lulu’s mom cuddles her close and tells her the important truth we’ve known all along, underscored by the series of images illustrating the myriad tasks of a mother.
Share this beautiful story with your little readers this month, and talk about the things your mother did that were special to you as a child. Use the storyline to talk about all the future possibilities of what your reader would like to do and be when they grow up; but above all, don’t forget to say “Thank you!” to all the women who have influenced you and inspired you.
Thank you to Blue Apple Books for providing this heartwarming story to enjoy for free during the month of May.
Happy Mother’s Day, and happy reading,