You Thought You Could Talk on the Phone?

May 10, 2012 § 1 Comment

It’s a situation we moms know all too well: The kids are playing nicely together; it’s quiet, even harmonious. You tiptoe to the other end of the house to make a “quick phone call.” As soon as the person on the other end answers the phone, there’s a tug on your leg. Suddenly, someone needs milk. Another someone is stepping over you trying to pull the scissors down to open a Zappos box (didn’t you leave that package on the porch)? Another someone has decided now is an opportune time to start poking his sister’s eyes. Another someone (or is it the same someone?) would like dinner and would like dinner NOW but not broccoli no way not eating that and why can’t we have mac ‘n cheese like so-and-so does every night and blah blah blah.

So, it’s no surprise that we sympathize with the mom in While Mama Had a Quick Little Chat (Ages 3-6), by newcomers Amy Reichert and Alexandra Boiger (pub. 2012). Bedtime is approaching, so Mama asks her daughter (think Eloise with red hair): “Rose, dear, please get ready for bed while I have a quick chat with your Uncle Fred. Brush your teeth. Wash your face. It’s getting late! I want you in bed by half past eight.” Naturally, Rose is well intentioned and would go straight to bed (truly), but what’s one to do when the doorbell rings and your mom doesn’t hear it and so you open the door and in bursts a team of men with party supplies for a party you didn’t know you were throwing?

With great rhythm and cinematic pen-and-ink drawings, this book keeps the surprises coming, as Rose finds herself the host (and stand-in drummer and magician’s assistant) of a party on the grandest of scales. All the while, Rose tries her hardest to interrupt her mom (“’MAMA!!!’ shrieked Rose. ‘Come right now and see!”), but this is a Mama who has been around the block a few times (“’Rose, dear,’ said Mama, ‘STOP PESTERING ME!!!’”). Kids may not relate (as we do) to Mama’s mounting frustration, perhaps not even to Mama’s simultaneous obliviousness to what’s taking place on the other end of her house. For kids, the real enticement is Rose’s predicament: everything from how to keep her guests fed (with pretzel logs and cream-cheese swirls, of course) to how to get rid of everyone and clean up their mess, as soon as she hears, “’Rose, dear, I hope you’re in bed! I’m just hanging up now with Uncle Fred!’” Rose handles herself under pressure with grace and poise, but the little smile on her face as Mama finds her “asleep” in bed lets us know she has enjoyed every minute. Perhaps Mama should try for another phone call tomorrow.

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