Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Review - While Mommy Was Fast Asleep

While Mommy Was Fast Asleep
by Lisa Cole
illustrated by Joy Eaton
Date: 2019
Publisher: Vestra Lingua
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

One crisp winter night, beneath a full moon, whispers of sisters drift up from their room...

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is one of the most ironic picture books I think I've ever read.

While Mommy Was Fast Asleep is a rhyming story about two sisters who have some domestic adventures one night when the younger one wakes up after not feeling well. The mother watches them throughout the night, and the girls are unaware.

The author states that she wanted to write a book about a blind child where the vision challenges were not central to the plot. I'm afraid I don't see the point of this. In making all the clues about the child's blindness visible ones in the illustrations, it kind of erases the disability for anyone who's just listening to the story!

I have a few other issues with this one, as well. The explanation of the mother's subplot is ridiculous and unnecessary ("The tired mother has spent the last few years fearing that, despite her best efforts, she cannot handle the challenges of raising multiple children in a modern world.") and seems condescending at best. And, to be frank, a mother that lets her eldest child deal with the younger one's middle-of-the-night diarrhea (including an underwear change) while smiling and peeking around the corner seems kind of lazy. Her fears about her own parenting are probably founded.

The illustrations are okay, but some of them are weirdly stretched (the one on the title page is particularly bad). The little clues about someone in the family having vision loss are clever. But, again, if you have vision loss yourself, you won't get to see them; the only way you'd know the child in the story is blind is if someone were to read you the author's notes.

The rhyming text is surprisingly good. It flows well, with pretty good meter. The choice to clump it all into paragraphs, however, is puzzling. It makes the pages seem really text-heavy. I think I would've preferred to see the rhymes broken up into lines like poetry. The font would have to be made smaller, though, which may be why this wasn't done in the first place.

Without the focus on vision loss, this is basically just a story of two sisters, one of whom does way too much caregiving while her mother looks on. I don't have a problem with the older sister reading stories and giving cuddles... but I don't think she should have to deal with her little sister's diarrhea and dirty underwear, especially when Mommy is standing right there.

Thank you to NetGalley and Vestra Lingua for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.43 out of 5

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