Saturday, August 15, 2009

While Mama Had a Quick Little Chat

I love finding fun little books that I wasn't expecting. I love picking up some random book at the library and being completely enchanted by it. That was definitely the case with While Mama Had a Quick Little Chat by Amy Reichert and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. I picked up the book on a whim and it has become my favorite read for the week. Not often do I find a story that mixes such a funny adorable story with elegant colorful illustrations. This book was wonderful, through and through.

The story, which is told in rhyme, starts when Mama gets a call from Uncle Fred and asks Rose to get herself ready for bed. Rose is just set to comply when the doorbell rings. It is some men with party supplies. Rose insists that there is no party at her house but lets them in anyway. They decorate the hall, much to Rose's protests. She tries to get her mother off the phone to help but she continues to tell her, just a couple more minutes. Then the party guests arrive. Rose is unsure what to do but greets all of the guests and tries to make them welcome after her mother tells her to try her best (thinking she's getting ready for bed). Then the band starts to play and a wizard does party tricks until Mama finally says that she's getting off the phone. Rose hurries the guests out and manages to get herself tucked into bed just in time. The book, just like each other page, ends with the line. "It's hard to believe, but Rose did ALL that, before Mama finished her quick little chat."

The story and wording of this book are silly and funny and make a wonderful read-aloud. The character of Rose is sweet, trying so hard to be obedient, but still playing a good hostess. She wants so much to make her mother proud and be ready for bed, even with all the distractions. She's not like other characters I've seen who revel in the chaos. Rose does the best she can. Her mother is shown regularly in different positions as she talks on the phone. She is constantly telling Rose to leave her alone as Rose tries to turn her attention to the party in the foyer. The rhymes are not simply descriptive but mix great dialogue into instruction. I loved her use of rhyme in dialogue. This was one of my favorites:

Then waiters rushed in with trays of hors d'oeuvres.
They handed Rose one and said "Please help us serve"
"There's no party!" cried Rose. "There's no need for food!"
"Feed your guests," they insisted. "You mustn't be rude!"

The rhymes were so much fun that I ended up reading the book several times to pick up on all the wording nuances. Reichert's story is full of wonderful dialogue, enjoyable rhymes, and great miscommunications.

Boiger's pictures are beautifully colored with a hint of sophistication. There is something very dressed up about the characters which makes me think of the early 20s. The fashions of the party guests are elegant, furs and hats and fringes. The images go from a simple house and our introduction to both mother and daughter, to a chaotic ballroom with color everywhere. There is an interesting mix between pages. Spreads with only mother and daughter are filled with white space and very simple. The spreads with the party are often full pages of color and detail. We see the difference between the simple tasks that Rose is expected to do (and her mother's never-ending call) and the chaos that is going on throughout the rest of the house. There is a touch of cartoon to the images but with tons of details. Rose is well captured with her red hair and her white dress. She's a model of innocent while her mother is a picture of flighty and distraction. Boiger makes each character shine with little touches for all. Visually simple but elegant.

This was my favorite story of the ones I picked out this week and I was so shocked since I checked it out on a whim. The story is lighthearted and funny and children will love it as a bedtime read. The illustrations are glamorous and overall I was charmed by this story. I'll be picking this one up for sure.

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