CM . . .
. Volume XIV . . . . August 31, 2007
In With You Always, Little Monday, foundling bunny Little Monday embarks on a quest to find his mommy. He asks Swan, Owl, Bear, Chipmunk and many other woodland critters if they might be his mommy, but none are. Each time, Little Monday rationalizes their rejection by highlighting the differences between them: Little Monday could never stay awake all night like Owl, for instance, or climb up trees like Chipmunk. At the end of a fruitless day of searching, Little Monday goes to bed, only to be awakened by the Moon Rabbit calling his name. Excited to have finally found his true mommy in the moon, Little Monday calls all his forest friends to party with him under the full rabbit moon.
Plotwise, Little Monday is Keiko Kasza’s contemporary A Mother for Choco meets P. D. Eastman’s classic Are You My Mother? with a dash of Margaret Weise Brown thrown in for bunniness. Tying the moon rabbit to earthly rabbits and Mondays is a very neat concept, but one that is perhaps too punny and sophisticated for the writing style. Additionally, I suspect that the protagonist’s name, Little Monday, flows much better in French than in English, when it is a bit clunky.
The gentle back and forth of the repetitive question and answer structure that makes up most of the story creates a nice bedtime story rhythm, and the “mother is always watching over you” message is sweet. It seems odd, however, that in this day and age of multiple family structures Little Monday’s mommy would necessarily look and act like him, and indeed the message around that is a bit unclear. The most straightforward reading is that Little Monday’s mother is dead, but no father or foster figure has filled the gap, leading to many potential questions from inquisitive child readers.
Fortunately, Cote’s signature mixed-media illustration style do a lot to redeem the book. Her dark scribbly outlines and delicate use of colour provide for lovely depictions of Canadian flora and fauna. She is able to create moonlight on the page to help bring the ethereal moon rabbit to life. The illustrations are quite lovely with charming sweet woodland animals, and the style reflects well the innocent loneliness and eventual illumination of Little Monday.
With You Always, Little Monday will come as a disappointment to readers who laughed their way through Cote’s What Elephant?, as the new book has little of the wry humour and freshness that made the former so much fun. However, for those who enjoy Cote’s books primarily for the illustrations and are looking for another sweet picture book for the preschool set, With You Always, Little Monday will satisfy.
Devon Greyson is a Librarian at the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research in Vancouver, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.