Thursday, January 17, 2008

My Favorite Childhood Book: We Help Mommy

I'm child number eight, out of eleven kids. Born smack in the middle of six boys. By the time I was nine, the oldest kids, including all of my sisters, were out of the house, on their own, hundreds of miles away.

It was me, mom, and the boys (including dad). We all had to Help Mommy, or she would have collapsed under the volume of laundry she faced daily. Smelly boy laundry.

This was one of my very favorite books. How wildly traditional, repressed, and stereotypically un-feminist of me. But the book helped bring me along the road to equality, too. I remember thinking "Hmm, where are the boys when I need someone to hold the dustpan?" Gosh, I loved this book! I think I loved it because I loved my mommy. And because it inspired me to help my mommy (hey, now that I think about it, I smell a rat!). And because of the beautiful illustrations. I looked at that pudgy little blond girl and saw myself. And she was good.

I'm going online now. Must. Have. Warmandfuzzypieceofchildhood.

Thanks to Jean Cushman (author), Eloise Wilkin (Illustrator) and Cynthia Smoot (photo credit).

12 comments:

hippyhappyhay said...

Sweet. Enjoy it all over again! xxxx

Nora Bee said...

Six brothers?? Yowzers! That looks like a perfectly charming book.

Melanie said...

Oh, Claire! I LOVED that book. I also had "We Help Daddy." I adore the way Eloise Wilkin drew children. My MIL actually has a collection of Wilkin-illustrated books, and I fondle them every time we visit.

Whenever I get on a kid-lit-nostalgia jag, I end up doing lots of fiscal damage on ebay.

Mrs. G. said...

I don't know this book, but I know the feeling of wondering where the boy is to help with the dustpan. My husband grew up in a large family and he has admitted that the boys got off light. The girls did the daily chores while the boys did the weekly or monthly chores--most of which involved being outside with yard equipment. Sadly, his life has changed considerably since those days. Don't know this book but I love it's sweet cover.

Mary Alice said...

I don't remember that book from my childhood. Which is surprising because my mother read us books daily...oodles of them. She tried mind control through books too. I remember one she particularly liked called Mexicali Soup...which was all about kids who didn't like certain vegetables, one asked no potatoes, one asked for no onions and so on, until the mother served them HOT WATER. Clearly there was underlying message there.

Oh, The Joys said...

Hmmm. I will have to check it out.

Caroline Armijo said...

I was totally obsessed with this book as a child. Doesn't the brother leave in a toy car as he pretends to go to work? I could not remember the name of the book until I spotted today in a Golden Book anthology at the bookstore. I immediately googled when I returned home.

Claire B. said...

And I'm glad Google brought you here! Welcome!

Readers, I have "We Help Mommy" as well as "We Like Kindergarten" coming as we speak from someone in the Phillippines, thanks to the magic of eBay.

I'll let you know if Brother drives away in his toy car. I can't wait to have this book in my hands again!

Caroline Armijo said...

Thanks! I am excited to add you to my reader.

That would be so exciting! Please let me know. Maybe I am combining a couple of different books.

I have checked my parents' bookshelves for this book on several occasions. I swear that they have saved every single thing from my childhood, but I can't find this one book. I need to make a more determined effort.

Actually I need to throw out a ton of my stuff from the attic. I hate to admit that I am just as bad as they are!

Anonymous said...

can you tell me the words to "the put away song" in the we help mommy book? I use to sing the song when I read it to the tune of london bridges. I use to read the book to my kids and I can't remember the words to that song.

Teresa and David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clair and Me said...

Surprise! A comment after all these years?

Here are the lyrics to the put-away song:

In the box we put the blocks,
The dolls go in the crib;
Teddy Bear sits on the chair--
Puts on his bright blue bib.

Cute!