Thursday, 30 January 2014

Dino Mummy by Mark Sperring and Sam Lloyd (Bloomsbury Publishing)

Dino Mummy

Written by Mark Sperring

Illustrated by Sam Lloyd

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing

Here's a thought - is it possible to tick all the right boxes for a book celebrating how amazing mums are without - well, to put no finer point on it - upsetting some mums?

In "Dino Mummy", which is intended as the aforementioned, a book gently telling us what we already know, that mums are super-amazing, multitasking, rock-solid and hugely deserving of all our love and hugs, a friend (no names, no pack drill) mentioned that she was annoyed by the book. I could see her point. The book's 'dad' character sits quietly by and lets mum do all the cooking, washing, ironing, shopping and parenting while he adopts the '1950s dad' stance of scoffing dinner, reading the paper and languishing in his comfy chair.

Charlotte's attitude to the book was interesting - in some ways, you can see why books often opt for showing a single parent in situations like these. She picked up on the fact that the dad dino was a bit useless, and in fact if you analyse things further, he's really only there to tick the boxes for the 'average family unit' (Dad, Mum, Brother, Sister).

We read and enjoyed the story, with Mark's fantastic rhymes and wonderful illustrations by Sam Lloyd, and Charlotte noted sagely (with all the wisdom and straight shooting you'd expect from a 5 year old) that "Dino Dad is no fun". I couldn't really shake my friend's analysis of the book, in fact there would probably have been less upset if the dad character was entirely absent - that way you'd feel that the mum character was even more worthy of praise.

Another thing worth noting is that very little demonstrable love is shown between dad and mum, though perhaps that's the point - Dad takes a back seat in the story intentionally to ensure that mum deservingly basks in the spotlight.

Flipping things on their head, dads get a fairly raw deal in children's books at times. There are so many books that show dad as being a bit dozy, useless, clumsy even - but sometimes silly and fun, so there's definitely a fine balancing act involved if you're aiming to achieve picture book perfection.

Do we book bloggers over-analyse things? Or should we (perhaps quite rightly) point out that it's 2014 and yet there are still books that crop up in our review piles and throw a zillion and one questions up that really have little or nothing to do with the book's intention, but consume us with our perception of whether the message was lost in the mist of tripping over its own good intentions by glaringly not reflecting family life as we know it. I thoroughly recommend you read Dino Mummy to your children, and get their honest reactions to it. If nothing else, take it as intended - a book that joyfully and colourfully tells you that mums are champs, dino or otherwise!

Charlotte's best bit: Snuggling up for bedtime stories, of course!

Daddy's Favourite bit: Breakfast time!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Bloomsbury Publishing)