Review Blog

Apr 28 2014

My Mum says the strangest things by Katrina Germein

cover image

Ill. by Tom Jellett. Black Dog Books, 2014. ISBN 9781922179562.
(Age: 3 to adult) Highly recommended. Humour. Language. The strange things we say without thinking, the responses to often said phrases, the metaphors and similes that are part of our language are given an airing in this very funny book by Katrina Germein, richly and hilariously illustrated by Tom Jellett, both of whom collaborated on the successful duo of books, My Dad thinks he's funny, and My Dad thinks he's funny too.
For adults reading this book to children, or just reading it to themselves, sayings we often hear are expressed and given a context so that we can see just how ludicrous they are. From the often heard, 'ants in your pants', to 'the maid is on holidays', and 'spinach makes you strong', the list of commonly heard phrases keep the readers turning the page to see which one comes next. Each page has at least one saying with Jellett's squawking illustration showing just what the saying means when taken literally. His bold and in your face illustrations will make younger children create gales of laughter, as they recognise the refrains often heard in their house, while older children will get a kick out of recognising the sayings, but will also begin to question just why people say them, and for those older still, reflection comes with every page turned as the origins of the phrase becomes a focus.
In classrooms this will be a hit with children reading the sayings out loud to each other and laughing at the possibilities Jellett produces in his illustrations, while a teacher reading this aloud to a class will have the opportunity to discuss sayings with the class, while in older classrooms, the range of sayings can be discussed, more added, the idea of metaphor and simile introduced, along with idiom and literal speech. The whole rounds off with several pages devoted to Mum putting her young children to bed, telling them that she loves them all the way to the stars and back, as she sneaks from their room in her space uniform.
So Germein and Jellett bring the story back to Mum and her love for her children, the focus no longer on her saying the strange things, but her love and devotion.
Fran Knight

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