Friday, February 17, 2006

While Mama had a Quick Little Chat by Amy Reichert

While Mama Had a Quick Little Chat
by Amy Reichert
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
Ages 4-8
Topics: parties, phone calls, attention

The phone rings and it's Uncle Fred. But it's also time for Rose to get ready for bed - so Mama asks Rose to brush her teeth and wash her face while she's on the phone.

"But, Mama...," Rose sighed, "how long will you be?"
"Not long," Mama promised. "Hurry, let's see
if you are able to do all that,
before I finish my quick little chat."

No problem thinks Rose, but then the doorbell rings, and the trouble begins. "Four muscley men" are at the door with party supplies. Rose politely tries to interrupt her Mama to ask what to do, but Mama is still on the phone "In a minute, " said Mama. "I'm just about through". So in come the muscley guys with tables and chairs and giant balloons and set up a party room. As soon as they're gone, the door bell goes again and a crowd of guests arrive:

"Wait there!" begged Rose. "My mom's on the phone!"
"Don't worry, "they said. "We'll be fine on our own."
"MAAAAAAAAMA!!!" Rose roared. "I need you right now!"
"I'm busy, " said Mama. "You'll manage somehow."
So Rose greets the guests, helps the waiters serve "tiny hot dogs/and cream-cheese swirls and big pretzel logs", becomes the magician's assistant, fills in for a missing drummer in the band and, with plenty of help from her new friends, gets the guests out, the place cleaned, and gets into bed:

It's hard to believe, but Rose did ALL that,
before Mama had finished her quick little chat.
Mama is pleasantly surprised to find little Rose asleep in her bed. "Good girl, Rose" she whispers.

This far-fetched, whacky story is extremely entertaining. The narrative rhyme and rhythm is top-notch, the story and language build together to a crescendo, and the little redheaded Rose rises courageously to every challenge. Children will laugh all the way through this one and will relate to little Rose's increasingly agitated attempts to get her mother's attention.

The watercolor illustrations are dramatic and unique. There's a strong Retro flavor to them, particularly to Mama who wears a high-necked, prim shirt, has pin like legs and feet, and talks on an old-fashioned black dial telephone. Some of the guests look like twenties flappers and the waiters are reminiscent of Edwardian footmen. The old-fashionedness makes the chaotic scene all the funnier. The party dancing scene with the jazz band is a spectacular double-paged illustration. Here's one detail from it, Rose drumming her heart out:

The party scenes are mostly double-paged spreads. In contrast, in the scenes where Rose is trying to get Mama's attention, the characters are illustrated separately in vignettes, Rose in the top half of the page and her Mama on the phone below. The vingettes are in pale blues and yellows, with the two characters flaming red hair and red slippers providing a visual spark, and emphasizing both the contrast and likeness between them. This repeating visual format also supports Rose's increasing frustration as she goes from politely trying to get her mothers' attention to screaming furiously.

A great read-aloud choice, this irreverent and witty tale will provide enjoyment for the whole family. And parents will have a chuckle (and think twice!) next time they say "just a minute".

Amy Reichert is a mom and a phone person who can do many things - "all while having a quick little chat!"

Alexandra Boiger studied graphic design and started her career in animation. This is her first children's book.


Blogger Kelly said...

Sounds like a cute one, Catherine. I've been known to have a chat or two myself :)

5:14 PM  
Blogger Vegan Knitting said...

I'm not sure how I feel about the illustrations but the story sounds great. I wonder where I might see a copy of that book... :)

9:02 PM  

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