by Julianne Moore
Meilo So, illustrator
Inside Jacket: I call her “Mom” in public, but that’s not her REAL name. It’s Mutti, Mamma, Mummy, MAMAN.
When your mom is from another country, your life might be a little different from your friends’. Maybe your mom speaks with an accent, fills your lunch with funny foods, or wears strange clothes. Perhaps she doesn’t look like you or she sings funny songs. But as all kids with foreign moms know, what makes their moms different is also what makes them the best.
Opening: My Mom is a foreigner, she’s from another place. She came when she was ten years old, with only one suitcase.
About the Story: Everyone has a mom, but not everyone’s mom was born in the same country as her children. Some moms are foreign and many of the things they do are weird. In fact, many of the things foreign moms are embarrassing. Some moms call their child a foreign nickname when other kids are around. Who would want to be called “Wee One,” or “bébé,” or Mon Petit Chou?”
My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not Me explains all the ways foreign moms embarrass their child at school, while they play, and when they are out and about. But not everything is bad and the narrator admits this. There are wonderful things only a foreign mother does. Things like sing foreign songs, cook foreign foods—sometimes great tasting and sometimes blah—and they have a special name, not just generic “Mom,”
Mutti, Mamma, Mummy, Maman
The narrator talks of special holidays and festivals. There is a match-up game where you must match the name of the holiday to the symbol that represents the holiday. And in the end, the narrator shares something special.
What I Thought: Honestly, I had my reservations about this picture book. I am not a fan of celebrity books. The book is also a larger sized book and it felt top-heavy. Once I opened My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not Me it became clear I had harshly prejudged this beautiful picture book. The watercolor, ink, gouache, and pencil illustrations are soft vignettes of life with mom. The pages are thick and difficult to tear. Unlike most thick picture book pages, which tend to have a glossy, no-sticky-fingers-finish, these pages have a soft matte finish.
The nicknames are funny. As the kids play, mom is off to the side cheering her child on, calling him by her native endearments. To the kids the words sound weird, more like odd sounds than words. With foreign moms packing soup for school lunches, insisting shoes come off upon entering a threshold, and themselves wearing funny-looking clothes, it would seem foreign moms do not understand their child’s world. Yet, despite the children’s complaints, they would never want any other mom.
I love how despite the kids’ continued embarrassment—while mom learns the “new social rules”—these kids know that mom understands the most important job she will ever have–is the care of their child,
“from my head down to my toes.”
I am glad I decided to review this “celebrity picture book” despite my personal reservations. My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not Me is a joyful and gorgeous book that celebrates the most important person in most everyone’s life. My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not Me would make a tear-inducing Mother’s Day gift, though I think moms will be pleased to receive this book as a gift any time of the year.
Kids will like this book for the foreign words, but mostly because of the book’s sentiment for mothers. Young children (age 4 to 8), seem to like learning foreign words and using them. This same age group tends to be very fond of their mother and will like reading a book that celebrates their MIP (Most Important Person), which gives them several new ways of saying “I love you, Mommy.” The last spread, a bedtime scene spread throughout an apartment building, deeply touched.
Released September 1, 2013
Age 5 to 8
© 2013 by Chronicle Books, used with permission
Text copyright © 2913 by Julianne Moore
Illustrations © 2013 by Meilo So