Mama’s Day with Little Gray
By Aimee Reid (author) and Laura J. Bryant (illustrator).
24 pp. Random House. $16.99
Ages 2 to 5 years.
You can sometimes see it when very young children go racing off to explore. They’ll suddenly stop in their tracks and quickly check to make sure a parent is hot on their heels. It’s what those who study child development refer to as the Toddler’s Dilemma. Toddlers seem to be wondering, “Am I big and competent? Or is small-and-cared-for better?”
Children want desperately to be strong and independent like the grown-ups who watch over them—and yet at the same time, they legitimately want to be the beloved infant they once were. Author Aimee Reid and illustrator Laura J. Bryant capture this dilemma in their heartwarming new picture book, Mama’s Day with Little Gray. It’s a comforting book for young children and parents alike.
When Little Gray and his mother take a stroll together, he looks up at her and asks earnestly, “Mama, when I grow up, will you grow down?” Mama answers honestly but kindly, “Well…when you grow big, I may look smaller.”
“‘If I grew up and you were my calf,’ said Little Gray, ‘I’d spend every day with you.’
‘I would be your calf and stay right by your side,’ said Mama. Their trunks swung together as they strolled along.”
Little Gray dreams of doing for his mother all the things she currently does for him. He explains that someday he’ll be tall enough to pick the tastiest leaves for her. Then he’ll teach her how to make mud and how to see pictures in the clouds. Mama assures him that someday he’ll not only be very big but very kind.
Bryant’s luminous artwork evokes the tranquility of Mama and Little Gray’s afternoon together. Page by page, the book reassures young readers that children can grow into competent grown-ups–grown-ups who will always be loved by their parents.