Kid's Stuff -- Books About Separation Anxiety
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"Are You My Mother?"
Written by P. D. Eastman
Illustrated by P. D. Eastman
(Beginner's Books, 1966)

A newly-hatched little bird tumbles out of the nest, in search of his errant mother... He asks the other animals if they... Oh, heck, you know the drill. Why bother with the plot summary!? This is one of Eastman's best books -- it reads well and is a perfect story to practice your funny animal voices. Plus, I've always loved Eastman's artwork, and this plucky little bird is one of his most memorable characters. One of the best of the faux-Seuss Beginner's Books... All this, and a cuddly, happy ending, to boot! Highly recommended... a winner!

"Home To Me, Home To You"
Written by Jennifer A. Ericsson
Illustrated by Ashley Wolff
(Little, Brown & Company, 2004)

Mom is coming back from a long business trip; back home, the stay-at-home dad and three children eagerly await her return. Contentwise, this book is nice for modern families, and it also models some good behavior (kids cleaning up after themselves, etc.) Its structure is more troublesome, though, flipping between the daughter's point of view and the mother's, as each goes through their day, anticipating their eventual reunion. I'm not a big fan of split-screen, dual narrative books -- it's hard for a reader to make them work, and I'd prefer to use my "explaining mojo" on the story itself, not the way the story is being told. Still, the emotional message rings true, and for families that are in similar situations, this book may seem like a revelation. Worth checking out.

"Don't Forget I Love You"
Written by Miriam Moss
Illustrated by Anna Currey
(Dial Books, 2004)

Another bear book. This one explores emotional transitions and daily rituals: a mama bear gets her daydreaming little boy ready for school, but when they start to run late, she drops him off quickly, accidentally forgetting to leave his favorite toy Rabbit, and also forgets to tell Billy she loves him and will pick him up later. Billy cries, because he expects the ritual goodbye, and also because and he feels bad that his dawdling made them late. Mama Bear, realizing her mistake, comes back and makes Billy feel better. A sweet book with good humor and a happy ending, and lovely artwork. The emotional life of Billy is quickly and deftly drawn, and given the respect is deserves, while also showing how exasperating it can be to herd little children around... A compassionate sketch of the emotional relationships between small children and their caregivers... Recommended!

"When Mama Gets Home"
Written by Marisabina Russo
Illustrated by Marisabina Russo
(Greenwillow, 1998)

A young girl with two older siblings waits for her mother to return home from work... The children all have chores to do to help prepare for supper, and when mom gets back, she finishes the meal and they all sit down together and talk about their day. Then the mother puts the little girl to bed. A simple, engaging narrative, with a warm, subtle, unapologetic look at single parenting... No mention of the mom being single is even made -- it's just how things are, and it's not presented as a problem. A cheerful family book.

"Owl Babies"
Written by Martin Waddell
Illustrated by Patrick Benson
(Candlewick, 1992)

A trio of baby owls are left alone in the nest while their mother searches for food. The eldest cheers the other two on, while the youngest cries for its mommy. I never thought much of this book until separation anxiety started to set in with our baby, and she liked to have it read over and over and over. Guess that's why it's in every book store in the country! A nice, simple story that deals with a primal emotional issue; nice artwork, too.

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