Review of Home Base: A Mother-Daughter Story

Home Base: A Mother-Daughter Story
by Nikki Tate; illus. by Katie Kath
Primary    Holiday    32 pp.
3/20    978-0-8234-3663-7    $18.99

Although our two protagonists spend little of the book together, they are connected throughout by their hard work and achievement. This family of two starts the day in a groggy daze as the sun rises over the breakfast table. Tate’s text is concise, with many pages featuring only a brief list. “Cereal. Bananas. Milk” describes the daughter’s breakfast, while mom takes “Orange juice. Toast. Coffee.” In the car, the daughter anxiously taps her fingers on the backseat while mom does the same on the steering wheel. “Nervous?” the mother asks. “A little. You?” the daughter replies. Over the next several pages we watch the day unfold in side-by-side illustrations, often displayed in multiple panels. While the daughter tackles baseball tryouts, the mom starts a new bricklaying job. What’s touched on in the text is made specific in Kath’s watercolor and pastel illustrations. Daughter’s successful base hit is shown opposite two panels of mom’s construction project (“Butter. Scrape. Smooth”). We feel mom’s pride in her handiwork and see it reflected in her smile across the spread from her daughter’s own satisfied stance on the pitching mound (“Catch. Toss. Grin”). After their eventful day, each sleeps soundly, ready to give it their all again the next time. Details such as the umpire’s bubblegum bubble as our ballplayer prepares her pitch, and Mom’s colorful arm tattoo, add comfort and, for many, familiarity to this welcome and unconventional family story.

From the May/June 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Hill Saxton

Hill Saxton is a youth services librarian at the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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