I own quite a bit of children’s books. Most from my own childhood, but also some picture books that I have bought more recently because they were just so beautiful. Mummy Never Told Me by Babette Cole is an example of the latter.
About the author
Babette Cole was an author and illustrator of children’s books from the UK. She studied arts and worked on children’s television programmes for the BBC. She has also created over 150 picture books, with Dr Dog as one of the most famous ones (that has also been turned into a successful children’s cartoon show).
Besides writing and drawing, she also spent a lot of time visiting schools and traveling. She has won a Kurt Maschler Award for a British “work of imagination for children, in which text and illustrations are integrated so that each enhances and balances the other” for Drop Dead. Besides that, her books have won the Children’s Picture Book of the Year a few times and several awards from the New York Public Library Children’s Books, the British Library Association and the British Book Trust.
Mummy Never Told Me
I wouldn’t exactly say the book has a twist, but it is written in a rather surprising way. The narrator is a small child that is listing a whole number of things that his mummy hasn’t told him about. And with each and every thing he lists, there is a beautiful illustration of what the boy is imagining about it. And in the end, he ends with:
“But I’m not worried. She’ll tel me when the time comes!”
The illustrations are quite beautiful! I don’t know much about art, but they seem a little like watercolours to me. With pastels flowing in and out of each other, a lot of different shades of the colours and it’s all quite soft and even a bit muted. The images don’t have harsh lines or too bright colours, it feels more like a soft blanket, some colours spread out on the page creating a beautiful little imaginary scape. You can look at them for a long while, each time discovering something new.
I think Mummy Never Told Me makes a great book to read to young children and to ask them about each of the things the boy is imagining. What does your child know about this, what do they imagine? And you can even make it a little educational by then explaining the actual thing to them.