29 April 2016 | Picture Books

Quirky picture books about mums

Nearly Mother’s Day, and there are a few whispered conversations at our place. The kids have given me quite a few books for Mother’s Day over the years – some adult novels and some picture books about mums. I’m not a fan of the sweetly sentimental picture books but I do love the quirky ones. Here’s a list of five of my favourites:


My Mum has x-ray vision, written by Angela McAllister and illustrated by Alex T. Smith. This book begins with: Milo’s Mum was like all the other mums. She had ordinary hair, ordinary clothes and a nice smile. Milo’s Mum was just like all the other mums … except she could see through things. Milo was pretty sure she had x-ray vision.

Except Milo works out that she doesn’t have x-ray vision, even though the pictures tell a different story. The illustrations are fun and comical, especially the two double page spreads which you need to turn around to see properly.

Funny book for kinder kids. My kids still quote from this book, especially when I remind them about the no-devices-in-bedrooms rule. ‘But how did you know, Mum?’ they say, as they pull out the device from under their t-shirt. ‘X-ray vision!’


No room for a mouse, written by Kyle Mewburn and illustrated by Freya Blackwood. Christopher’s Mum is extraordinarily busy, with a to-do list that grows every day. When Christopher invites an array of people to live in his house, his mother doesn’t even notice. But when Christopher and his pet mouse go missing, his Mum notices then and adjusts her to-do list.

Interesting book for 3-6 year-olds. Gorgeous, watercolour illustrations.


Kiss the cow, written by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. Mama May had so many children she couldn’t count them all. But every day, Mama May manages to milk the cow twice a day to give milk and cheese to her many children. It is Annalisa, her most stubborn and curious child, that causes the problem in this book. The story is about Annalisa and Luella, the cow, but I like Mama May’s constant presence and firm questioning.

Fabulous book for 3-6 year-olds. A funny ‘ugh’ moment.


Time for bed, Isobel, written by David Bedford, illustrated by Leonie Worthington. The panda mother in this story deserves a medal for her patience! “I don’t want to go to bed,” said Isobel. “I want to be with you.” Forget that this is a kids’ story – if you have ever spent three hours putting a toddler to bed, this book is for you!

Perfect for toddlers who don’t want to go to bed.


My Mum, written and illustrated by Anthony Browne. This is a classic and has been around for over ten years now. There is also a corresponding Dad book. The story is told from the child’s perspective, about his mum who can sing like an angel, and roar like a lion. She’s really, really nice, my mum. It’s full of contradictions – She’s as soft as a kitten, and as tough as a rhino. The illustrations show the same floral material from Mum’s dressing gown on every page.

All babies should be given this as soon as possible, and all mums should read this frequently! Wonderful first Mother’s Day present.

So, if you’re a mum, what sort of mum are you? Do you have eyes in the back of your head or are you as tough as a rhino? Do you feed your children milk and cheese? Are you as patient as Isobel’s mum, or as busy as Christopher’s mum? Think I can identify with all these storybook mothers!

1 Comment

Terri Dixon

I loved all these books too, Karen, but the picture book Mum I most identify with is Mrs.Large. There are several books in the series by Jill Murphy about a family of elephants , “Five Minutes Peace” is one. Mrs Large is craving some quiet time from her noisy brood but alas things don’t go to plan.

Terri Dixon.

April 29, 2016 at 7:03 am

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