Saturday, 17 December 2011

TOP FIVE: Book mums

Top five book mums

It always makes for an awkward conversation when you open the door to a salesperson and they say ‘Is your mum or dad in?’... 

Rather than say I’M TWENTY FIVE, I just said ‘no’ and hoped they’d think I was a home-alone child and go away.

But it got me thinking about families. Moving out of home can make you feel a bit like a solitary person, rather than a family member, which can be a bit sad when you’re ill and want your mum to bring you hot Ribena, or when you just think how convenient it would be not to have to feed or dress yourself.

Not that my parents dressed me when I lived with them. It would have been nice, though. A bit like living in Downton Abbey. They could at least have got me a ladies’ maid.

So I thought I’d audition a new family to live with me and look after me.

Families is also a theme in the book my kittens have just reviewed – The 10pm Question. I would utterly love to live with the Parsons family in that book.

Today we’re going to audition the mums.

1. Mrs Weasley 

The ULTIMATE mum. The ultimum. I would love to be a Weasley and I would wear my Christmas jumper with pride. The bit in the last book where she gets finally revenge on Bellatrix for killing Fred was one of my all time HP heart surge moments. So if anyone was mean to me I could just say 'I'll set my mum on you'.

2. Mutti from the Georgia Nicholson series

Although I haven't seen the film, I thought this picture summed up the shelf bosom and the tarting around with handsome men quite well. 14-year old Georgia finds her mum horrendously embarrassing, but I think, for an older daughter, Mutti would be quite fun for activities such as sharing a glass or seven of wine and cackling over Jem the builder or Dr Clooney. But would she kill a witch for me? Probably not.

3. Alison Dean from The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean by David Almond

Billy Dean is brought up in secret and isolated from the world. It's just him and his mum waiting for after-dark visits from his dad. This is because Billy's dad is the local priest who seduced Billy's mum Alison, a young hairdresser who visited him, and he has shut away the evidence of his 'sin'. When Billy's dad stops visiting and disappears Alison brings Billy out into the world - it's a world that has been destroyed by war and the inhabitants look at Billy as a sort of angel. But through it all, as Billy is forced to become a 'medium' for the townsfolk to contact their dead, the one constant figure in the background who never asks anything of Billy is his mum. She never even moans about what an utter creep his dad is, but keeps it to herself. One of those mums whose just a lovely, lovely person.

4. Merle from Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Midwinterblood is about Eric and Merle, who meet each other seven times in a story that spans a thousand years. Each time the love between them is different - they are lovers, artist and muse, brother and sister - but the story that really got me (although all the stories will get you - pesky Sedgwick and his pesky characters always making me cry!) was the one where Merle is Eric's mum. This Eric speaks and thinks differently from other children. He was accidentally struck on the head by his father when he was little and his father, unable to cope with what he had done, has left. Merle is left alone with Eric and has to accept that she doesn't understand Eric's mind - 'it's like loving someone from another world'. When Archaelogist Edward visits with his students and gets to know the family it becomes clear just how special Eric is and just how fiercely his mum loves him. YOU WILL CRY.

5. Ma from The 10pm Question by Kate de Goldi

This may seem like an odd choice, given that Frankie's mum and that she cannot leave the house is one of the main sources of Frankie's worries, but this is a book about understanding the different ways in which people's minds work and Frankie's mum, more than all of the rest of his family, understands him. Frankie's head is full of questions and he visits his mum at 10pm every evening to ask them. Each chapter ends with this private ritual between them and so Frankie's story is, for me, underpinned by his relationship with his mum.

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