Book Review: Mum Goes to Work, by Libby Gleeson & Leila Rudge

Available in bookstores nationwide.
Mum Goes to Work
is a wonderful picture book, with expressive illustrations, a positive storyline, and hidden extras that tell a sub story. It’s a story that has a little something for everyone.

The book runs two stories in parallel. The main arc follows a group children as they go to daycare and the exciting times they have. On each page a new mother is introduced, with details about their job. The story then goes on to talk about that mothers child and the fun things they’re doing.

Just as the children at daycare all play and interact with each other, the parents end up interacting with each other through the course of their normal jobs. This forms a story that is cleverly hidden in the pictures. Laurence’s mother trips over a dog lead of Anne’s fathers’ dog, injures herself and has to go to hospital, where she’s seen by Max’s mum, the nurse. The dog escapes and the story helps the dog find its way back to Ann’s father by illustrating what various mothers do at work.

This is such an excellent idea for a picture book, and extends the book for shared reading exploration and dialogic reading, as there are so many other stories hidden in the pictures that can be discussed. Yet the illustrations are not busy. They are simple, but expressive faces, with solid detail in the background.

There is also great variation in the jobs that the mothers that reflect real life. It’s nice to see the stay at home mum, café worker, and shop assistant represented alongside a teacher, gardener and architect. Although a few more “high powered” jobs would be nice.

Although there is one dad and a male day care worker in the story, Mum Goes to Work is very female-centric.

I also love the play the children are doing, and the wonderful illustrations that emphasise this. “Rosie, Jack and Nadia wash all the dolls and teddies and put them out to dry” has the kids in an outside tub washing all their soft toys, with already washed soft toys in a tree drying. It’s such realistic vision.

This is a delightful book, with text that pleasantly rolls off the tongue, without being in a sing-song rhyme, illustrations that are expressive yet simply expressed, and hidden stories within the pages that enable long discussions. I thoroughly recommend this book for all ages.

Reviewed by Alison Sammes

Mum Goes to Work
by Libby Gleeson & Leila Rudge
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781921529825