Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Friday, April 23, 2010

Where Is My Mommy?

My Mommy Is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill by Jean Regnaud, illustrated by Emile Bravo

My Mommy Is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill is a semi-autobiographical French comic album. Critically acclaimed, it has won both the 2008 Essentials Award at the 35th Festival of Angoulême, France, and the 2008 Tam Tam Literary Award from the Salon du Livres et de la Presse Jeunesse.

Five year-old Jean spends his days either with his annoying little brother and kind nanny, at school, or playing with his neighbor Michele. His dad works a lot so he is not home often and Jean is not sure where his mommy is. Throughout the story we learn more about Jean's life, his likes and dislikes and little adventures and mischief that he gets into. Michele seems to be the only one that knows where Jean's mommy is because she will sent Michele postcards to read to Jean, apparently Jean's mommy is traveling. By the end of the story Jean doesn't come to know the exact truth but he does come to a realization about his mommy and doesn't look for her anymore.

This is a touching and slightly sad story of trying to figure things out at a very young age. Jean is a very cute little boy who has his own set of opinions and little schemes he tries to work out. The story does not have typical narrative but rather follows him through the year and we find out more about him through chapters about school, friends, holidays, etc. The illustrations are very detailed and a lot of the story telling is through the character's expressions. I am not a huge graphic novel/comic book fan so I cannot speak to those of you who are more experienced in the genre but I would say that this story is very well written and I liked the balance of story telling between the text and the images. At the end I was left both sad and content. Jean figures things out to a point where he is not sad or scared anymore and even though he has still not figured out the truth it is a good place for a five year-old. It is sometimes sad reading about what Jean is experiencing because as an adult you realize very quickly what has happened. But there is a lot of hope in this story and a lot of wonder. It was refreshing to see the world through Jean's eyes where everything still has some mystery to it. I would recommend for readers 9-12.

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