I Know A Woman: A Song for Mothers
by Sharon Gudereit, Illustrated by Miranda Pringle
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$14.95 ISBN 9-781988-783536
The colourfully-illustrated softcover, I Know A Woman: A Song for Mothers, is a grand example of creative collaboration, and a testament to the beauty of YNWP’s (Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing) titles. SK’s Sharon Gudereit and BC’s Miranda Pringle are teachers who exude artistic talent: Gudereit is a singer/songwriter and musician, and Pringle is the artist who brought what was originally Gudereit’s song to life on the page.
The book is “A heartfelt tribute to the nurturing women in our lives,” and the story pictorially follows the lives of an emotionally tightknit mother and daughter, from the latter’s birth to the former’s possible death; yes, the words “angel,” “far away,” and the illustration of the elder woman’s framed photo beside a glowing candle are open to interpretation, but even children of a certain age will clue-in to the gentle suggestion here.
This feels like a personal story, but anyone who’s had the gift of a loving mother will certainly connect to it. The text – lyrics, really – contain some rhymes and off-rhymes, and the chorus is repeated. What’s so endearing to this reader is the original details the illustrator included … the “homey” images, like a succulent plant beside crystals on a window shelf; and torn jeans; and a paint chip pinned to the wall. Pringle’s done an exceptional job of aging both characters, particularly with the use of changing hairstyles.
Cats and insects – children will have fun locating the butterflies on each page – recur in the images, and one can easily create opportunities for older children throughout this book, ie: have them count all the sunflowers in the warm two-page spread, which shows the mother riding a white horse bareback through a flower field: “It’s hard to believe she was once a little girl, who used to dream of riding horses through the field.” Each image is cornered with the black triangles used in old photo albums to keep the photos in place; this gives the effect that one is indeed leafing through an album of pleasant memories, and SK is represented in the prairie lily and elevator images.
After the daughter becomes a mother herself, we read “[The elder mother’s] got a shoulder that can handle any tears. She’s the one you always call to spill out all your fears.” There’s sweet visual repetition here: the new, ginger-haired baby is wrapped in the same blanket we see her mother wrapped in on page one, but now it’s used as a sling, the way contemporary mothers often support their wee ones.
I resisted checking online for the song that inspired the text until after I’d read the book. It’s from Gudereit’s CD, Let It Go, and it can be accessed at youtube.com/watch?v=zg3_TitrjSM . Kids will enjoy the suggested art, interview, genealogy and writing activities at the end of the book, and flipping through the pages while listening to the author beautifully sing the text is an absolute bonus.
I Know A Woman: A Song for Mothers is a delightfully touching package.
THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM