I had been seeing glimpses of Mother Bruce by Ryan T Higgins here and there on the internet and kept meaning to get a copy. The cover art alone is eye catching, not to mention the title. Once I finally got my hands on a copy, I was not disappointed! Mother Bruce is a hilarious book that is a joy to read out loud, which I did repeatedly last week, to everyone from the pre-kinders to the fifth graders, and I'm going to read it again this week. The one downside is that, when I read out loud, I don't always get a good look at the pictures and Higgins's illustrations are magnificent. They evoke so many things, from graphic novels to comic strips to animation to landscape painting, and the facial expressions and body language of Bruce and the geese are priceless.
Best, of all, Mother Bruce is such a smart, clever book. Higgins's premise brilliant and the way he tells his story is very engaging. Bruce is a bear who is a grump. But, he is a grump who has a fondness for one thing - eggs. Bruce collects eggs from all over the forest, but he does not eat them raw like other bears. No, Bruce cooks them into "fancy recipes that he found on the internet." When Bruce finds a recipe for "hard-boiled goose eggs drizzled in honey-salmon sauce," he grabs his cart and goes shopping, which makes for my favorite illustration in the book - Bruce, hip deep in a river, his cart filling up with fish.
Bruce collects his eggs, asking Mrs. Goose if they are "free-range organic,"and goes home to cook. A small hitch sends him out to fetch more wood and when he returns, he finds he is the "victim of mistaken identity!" Despite his best efforts to return the goslings, they have imprinted on Bruce and he is in it for the long haul, as you can see in my second favorite illustration in Mother Bruce on the left.
The humor continues as Bruce tries to convince the geese to migrate. When nothing works, Bruce forgoes hibernation to take the geese to Miami by bus. There, they "laze about at the beach in tacky shirts, sipping ice-cold lemonade, while Bruce dreams of new recipes - that don't hatch!" And, proving his is a truly gifted author and illustrator, the final pages of Mother Bruce show one of the geese plopped in the sand, staring at a newly hatched sea turtle who is gazing up at him asking, "Mama?" On top of all the other praise I have for Mother Bruce, what I, as a librarian, value most about this book are all the different conversational topics it brings up. When I read Mother Bruce, I get to talk to the kids about hibernation, migration, nursery rhymes, the difference between ducks and geese and egg preferences. However, my favorite question comes at the end of the book when I ask the kids, "Why do you think the author chose a baby turtle to say, 'Mama' to the goose?" This is always thought provoking and the answers range from interesting to hilarious. I can't wait to see what Ryan T. Higgins does next!
And, for those of you with kids in 2nd - 5th grade who are lucky enough to live in or near Kittery Maine, Ryan T. Higgins runs a summer camp!!! I wonder if he would let me crash it...
Source: Review Copy