Name of Book: Missing Mommy
Author: Rebecca Cobb
Illustrator: Rebecca Cobb
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Audience: Ages 3-8
Summary: The youngest member of the family tells of his bewilderment, anger, and grief after the death of his mother.
Literary elements at work in the story: This story is told in simple declarative sentences by a very young boy. He lists his feelings following the death of his mother, and this list could have come directly from a manual on childhood grief: I feel scared, I feel angry, I worry that I caused her death, etc. The actual narrative of the story, however, happens in the childlike illustrations. In those we see a father and an older sister who are also grieving. We learn that everyone struggles through the days following the mother’s death, clinging to one another for support and for comfort. We see that there is a wider community of support, too, presumably with friends, family, and a counselor.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The family in this story is Caucasian and probably middle class. One illustration of other children with their mothers shows a multi-cultural group, but the focus of this story is one particular family dealing with loss.
Theological conversation partners: This book would be useful in opening up lines of communication with young children who are experiencing grief after the loss of a parent. Feelings are named matter-of-factly, and the illustrations give plenty of opportunity for discussion about the details of grief. However, this story contains absolutely no theological language with regard to death. The assurance of eternal life with God, such as that found in Romans 8:38-39, will have to be brought to this discussion by a trusted adult.
Faith talk questions:
- How can you tell that the little boy in this story is sad?
- Who else is sad in this story? How can you tell?
- Who is still there to take care of the little boy?
- Do you think that his mommy died because he was naughty? Why not?
- Jesus promises us that we will be with him in Heaven when we die. Where do you think the little boy’s mommy is now?
- What would you tell this little boy if he were your friend?
This review was written by regular contributor Beth Lyon-Suhring.
Missing Mommy by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.