Title: A Mother for Choco
Author: Keiko Kasza
Illustrator: Keiko Kasza
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Audience: Ages 3-6
Summary: Choco is a little bird who lives all alone and who sets off one day to find his mother. Though bits of him match other mothers in his neighborhood, no one looks just like him. Discouraged to the point of tears, Choco finally finds a very unconventional mother to call his own.
Literary elements at work in the story: Kasza uses the sort of repeated parallel dialogue that young children love as a device to advance this simple plot. Choco greets each potential mother, excitedly points out a physical characteristic which they have in common, and asks with great hope, “Are you my mother?” In response each mother draws attention to a way in which they differ, and Choco moves on, dejectedly. The surprise ending, then, is even more affirming after all of Choco’s rejections. Kasza’s simple, bright illustrations manage to inject both great emotion and light humor into the story.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? At its core, this is a story about physical difference and could easily be interpreted in light of the world’s emphasis on racial differentiation. However, this is not a paean to diversity; instead, it suggests that outward appearance really has very little to do with the depth of relationships. Oddly, there are no fathers in this story.
Theological Conversation Partners: The story of Choco has a lot to say about the problems we can encounter when we make judgments based on what people look like on the outside. Choco begins his quest by trying to match himself to those who look like him. Though he is yellow like a giraffe, has wings like a penguin, and sports puffy cheeks like a walrus, none of those animals claim him as their own. Only when he finds a mommy who defines motherhood by love, compassion, and a remarkable sense of fun, does Choco realize that it doesn’t really matter what she looks like. This book might be helpful in conversation with the story of the anointing of David in 1 Samuel 16:7 – “for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” This book could also be used as a springboard for discussion about that relationship which we seek all our lives and how we find that deep need met in the One who loves us just because we are. Despite his strange appearance, Mrs. Bear was delighted with Choco and knew exactly what he needed. At the end of the story she invites him to be one of her mis-matched children, just as God does with us. Choco may not have spent his inheritance self-indulgently as did the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), but Mrs. Bear still gave a party for this lost child who is now found.
Faith Talk Questions:
- How is Choco trying to find a mother?
- Why do none of the animal mothers in the first part of the book claim him as their child?
- Why do you think that Mrs. Bear came running to Choco when he began to cry?
- Why do you think that Mrs. Bear loved Hippy and Ally, and Piggy?
- What makes a good mom or dad?
- What do we have to look like so that God will love us?
This review is written by regular contributor Beth Lyon-Suhring.
A Mother for Choco by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.