Keiko Kasza's A Mother for Choco
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
A picture book about when your parents don't look like you!
You probably remember P.D. Eastman's Are You My Mother?
It was a truly classic book under the Dr. Seuss imprint. A little bird hatches and falls out of his nest while his mother is gone. He walks about asking various creatures (and machinery), "Are you my mother?"
Eventually he is returned to his nest at about the time his mother returns from worm-shopping. All is right in his world.
Think of A Mother for Choco as the adopted child version of Eastman's classic, because that's clearly what the author intended. Review continues.
We don't see Choco's nest when we meet him. We just see him alone, a distinctive-looking little yellow bird. We're told he lives alone, but that he wishes he had a mother.
Like Eastman's bird, Choco goes about asking mothers of other species if, indeed, they might be his mother.
With sympathy (except for a grumpy walrus), they all sadly inform him that no, they aren't his mother. They note how clearly different in appearance they are from him.
Lonely Choco finds himself in an orchard, where Mrs. Bear picks apples. Sadly, he sees that she looks even less like him than the other creatures. Mrs. Bear comes running when she hears him crying words that would rend any grown-up's heart:
Mommy, mommy! I need a mommy!"
I suspect you can see where this is going. So natural, so obvious, but it took author-illustrator Keiko Kasza to realize no one had come up with a response to Eastman yet.
Mrs. Bear is such a good mommy that it turns out she's raising a number of other former orphans as well (an alligator, a pig, a hippo). She gives Choco the option of becoming her child, and of course he chooses to do so.
Originally published in Japan, Kasza's watercolors are sweet and her characters just the right amount of goofy. (None goofier than Choco himself, with his blue and yellow striped feet.)
The pro-adoption sentiment couldn't be purer, with a loud-and-clear message for even the youngest children that what makes a mother is love, not genetics. A mother is defined by her willingness to take responsibility for a child and place his happiness and well-being above her own.
That's the beautiful truth A Mother for Choco tells.
Best Children's Books - Find, Read or Write home page.