CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 36. . . .May 22, 2015
And so begins a tug of war between Benny and his mother as he tests her tolerance and love with his increasingly naughty behaviour and many scenarios of “What would you do?” Some of the outrageous episodes include throwing the plate, using crayons on the walls, jumping on the sofa with muddy boots, and tearing pages in library books. More incidents of mischief are added, and each time his mother’s response becomes equally implausible and silly as she sends Benny off to the zoo, sells him to the circus and even shoots into him into outer space to punish him. Both mother and son are having fun creating the preposterous exaggerations as their humour and imaginations take flight, with Benny laughing “like an evil genius” and mom creatively responding to his being “monstrously naughty.” The author cleverly shows that patience and humour are crucial in dealing with troublesome, unruly kids. But even though unconditional love wins out in the end,... the plate still must be cleared!!
The message of a parent’s love and acceptance, “no matter what,” may not be so subtle, but it is effectively and simply told by a gifted writer. Fergus is well-recognized for several YA books and has numerous nominations and selections for Canadian awards, but she is equally at home writing for the younger set, as seen in her first book for children, The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten. As with this previous book, Maureen Fergus takes a fresh look at an authentic issue that resonates with kids and parents. You can almost hear the little ones giggling with the improbable solutions that the mother devises in her response to Benny’s behaviour. And What If I Won’t? would be a fun and reassuring book to share with a child after a rude episode. In some ways, this book is also reminiscent of the lovely Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse. This is a beloved story of a child testing the limits of her independence and a mother who proves that a parent’s love is unconditional, even where once again the limits are pushed.
Child-friendly and digitally rendered illustrations capture the refreshing story line and humorous discussion between mother and child. The energy of the lighthearted story is replicated in the busy, colourful drawings.
Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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