Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dear Mother, Dear Daughter

Dear Mother, Dear Daughter

Jane Yolen
Illustrator:  Heidi Stemple 
For ages 9 to 12
Boyds Mills Press, 2009   ISBN: 978-1590787434

Mothers and daughters have been having heart-to-heart discussions, arguments, fights, and reconciliations for as long as there have been mothers and daughters. Daughters want to stay up later, mothers want them to get their beauty’s sleep. Daughters think that they are fat, and their mothers tell them that they are “just right,” perfect the way they are.

For this unique and very meaningful collection of poems, Jane Yolen and her daughter Heidi Stemple have written poems that present seventeen topics from the point of view of a mother, and from the point of view of a daughter.

They begin with a poem about doing homework. How many millions of times have mothers and daughters tussled over not putting off doing homework. Here the daughter asks to “watch one show, / Then to work I’ll go.” The mother is sick and tired of having to be the “homework cop,” and she announces, “By golly, I am going to get tough.”

Then there is the poem in which the daughter grieves when a much-loved grandmother dies. She is feeling her loss and remembering how her grandma “was always here.” In response, the mother comforts her daughter, reminding her that so much of Grandma is still here in their memories and their hearts, that she is “more / here / than not here.”

“There is nothing to do,” the daughter says, complaining about how everything is “boring and dull” and how her life is “the pits.” Not surprisingly, her mother is not best pleased with these remarks, and she informs her daughter that there are so many things to do, “Both old things and new.”

This collection of poems will delight both mothers and daughters. They offer insight, presenting both points of view with humor and sensitivity. It would be interesting to see what fathers and sons would say to each other.