Guest Author - Nicki Heskin
Mama's Milk by Michael Elsohn Ross is a truly lovely little children's book. The overall concept is showing human and animal babies nursing in various settings. Starting with "Cuddle little baby warm and tight / Mama's going to feed you day and night," this is accomplished extremely well, with beautiful illustrations by Ashley Wolff and a quite impressive rhyme (who would have expected furrow and burrow!).
Animals pictured range from farm animals like pigs and horses, to jungle/desert/zoo animals in their natural habitats like monkeys and elephants, ocean mammals – dolphin and whale, and also include more unusual and surprising choices like bats, platypuses and armadillos. The book highlights the variety of ways animals nurse their young – side-lying, reclining, standing, swimming, floating and both the feeding of single animals and whole litters of various sizes. As an added bonus, the pages with animals include the name of the animal and the correct name of the animal babies (e.g. kangaroo and joey, coyote and pups, and platypus and puggles – who knew?).
But as much as the animals are a huge focus, where this book truly scores for me is in the illustrations of the people. Often my one caveat in books of this nature is the lack of diversity pictured, but this may be one of the most diverse children's books I've seen. Each page with people features a different ethnicity. Elsohn Ross even manages to include men in the mix by showing a man and his son tenderly watching a pet mouse nurse her young as well as the very realistically sleeping dad next to the mom nursing in the night – sweet in its own way.
The people in the book are also pictured in a mix of situations – nursing in bed, fallen asleep in a chair with the baby to the breast, nursing on a park bench with an older sibling eating lunch (without blanket or nursing cover, just a tastefully pulled up shirt), even being fed in a stroller with a spoon (it doesn't say in any way, but I'm going to choose to believe it's cereal or pureed food mixed with expressed breastmilk!). There is also a baby in a sling as mama and older sister watch the cat nurse its young.
As if all of that weren't enough to pack into one little book, the final pages show thumbnails of each page with a further fact about that animals nursing pattern – including the people with tidbits like "A breastfeeding mama gets more sleep." Finally there is a recommended link to an excellent website for further inspiration featuring "101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child."
With all of this rolled in, it's easy to forget that this is also just a precious little read for a child – my 2 year old really loves it. It is especially perfect for us, as "Mama's Milk" is our chosen term for breastfeeding (as in, "Can I have some mama's milk pleas?!) Excellent purchase for your own child, or as a gift for an expectant mother or sibling.
View Mama's Milk on Amazon.com (Note: I reviewed an earlier version that did not include the biligual text, which is why there is no mention of this in my review).
Another Great Children's Book that addresses nursing (full review link is below in Related Links)