Mama Robot (Tundra Books)
Written by Davide Cali
Illustrated by Anna Laura Cantone
Translated by Marcel Danesi
When we first got this book my son advised me not to read it. "It might hurt your feelings," he said. "It's about a boy who wishes his mother was a robot." Then he read it and decided that it all came out all right in the end, and that the story was unlikely to traumatize me.
It's actually a terribly sweet story about motherhood, even though the first page gave me a sick clench in the gut:
My mom is always busy.
She's at her desk every day,
sometimes even on Saturday.
When I get home from school, dinner's on the table
and there's a note that always says the same thing:
"I'm working. Brush your teeth after
you eat. Do your homework. Tidy up
your room. Hugs and kisses, Mom."
I was beginning to worry that this was a cautionary tale about what happens to the children of writers. A sort of Running With Scissors for ages 4-7. But after a little flight of fancy about the benefits of having a mother you could turn off with a remote control, the narrator comes to the conclusion that a robot mom wouldn't be soft like his real mom, or smell nice like his real mom, or know how to cuddle.
This is a gorgeous book, and while both the writer and illustrator are based in Italy we can claim Canadian bragging rights on translator Marcel Danesi.
Happy Mother's Day to all the real moms out there. And a big smackeroo to my own wonderful mother from me & my darling boys.