cover image Mama Seeton’s Whistle

Mama Seeton’s Whistle

Jerry Spinelli, illus. by LeUyen Pham. Little, Brown, $17 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-12217-7

For the four Seeton kids, Mama’s “simple, two-note whistle” is more than a call to come home from their rambling adventures. The whistle signifies everything that’s wonderful about being in a loving, close-knit family: gathering around the table for dinner, devouring homemade chocolate cake, and, above all, having a mother whose affection is unwavering, unconditional, and unlimited. So even when the Seeton kids grow up and move far away (their professional pursuits include forest ranger and marathon runner), they’re never truly beyond the whistle’s reach, especially when their mother needs them most. Spinelli’s spare storytelling, with its subtle refrains and emotional modulations, strikes a knowing, bittersweet, yet comforting tone, while Pham’s ardently detailed but never sentimental portraits of small-town life transport readers back to “the old days, when only one family on a block had a TV,” mothers seemed to wear aprons around the clock, and kids roamed free. Spinelli and Pham make beautiful music together, creating an unabashedly old-fashioned family fable that should leave readers of all ages snuggling a little closer to one another. Ages 3–6. Illustrator’s agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Apr.)