My Mom is A Foreigner, But Not to Me
by Julianne Moore
Age Range: 5-8 years
Grade Level: K - 3
Actress Julianne Moore has a new children's book out, My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not to Me (illustrated by Meilo So, published by Chronicle Books). I had no idea that Julianne's mom came to the U.S. from Scotland when she was 10, much like how my own mother came to the U.S. from Asia. I was lucky enough to see some of the watercolors by Meilo So in person at the Chronicle Books Children's book preview earlier this year. The illustrations are so beautiful and capture the diversity of all the moms I see around my own city.
This book was a great way to relate different cultures to my daughter Chloe because she herself is growing up in a multi-cultural home (French and Chinese) and attends an international school. She loves it when I read the little post it notes in the front of the book that says "I love you Mommy" in different languages. (I can't seem to figure out the last one.)
If you have an iPad, the iBooks version ($7.99 via the iBooks store on your device) is fantastic with Julianne Moore narrating the book oh so perfectly. I love listening to her voice. I have also found a new love for having children's books on the iPad, especially when we go on vacation and need stories for bedtime reading while on vacation. The book is also available in a Kindle edition for $9.59.
Below is an excerpt from an interview with author, Julianne Moore on the Chronicle Books site where she talks more about her book.
What inspired you to write My Mom My Is a Foreigner, But Not to Me?
My mother immigrated to the United States from Scotland in 1950, when she was ten years old. Upon entry to the States, she was asked if she would like to become a citizen, and she said no, she fully expected to return home to Scotland someday. She was married very young to my father (an American boy she met in high school in New Jersey) and I was born when she was 20. She eventually became an U.S. citizen when she was 27 when my father was applying for jobs that required she not be a foreign national. I remember her coming home crying because they made her renounce her British citizenship. She was also holding a small American flag!
So I grew up with a very young mother who had a strong sense of herself as belonging to another culture, and who also communicated to her children that we were a part of that culture too. It was obvious in small ways, like her coloring and her accent, but also profoundly, in the way she viewed her world. It was something I noticed intermittently when I was a child—when my friends would ask why my mother “talked funny” or why I had a kilt—but to me, everything about my mother was completely normal and familiar to me, even her own sense of being foreign. She was, simply, my mother, the mother that I wanted, the one that did everything for me and that I loved more than I can articulate.
This book, of course, is for her.
What do you hope people take away from their reading of your new picture book?
I hope they recognize their own families, their own mothers and grandmothers, and that it gives them pleasure! Also, this is not an unusual story—so many of us in the United States, or many other countries, for that matter, have a parent or parents who emigrated. And I do feel that as a country we have become more and more about inclusion of culture, ratherthan simply assimilation, so it gives kids (and educators hopefully) a platform to talk about it.
What drew you to Meilo So’s art for this book?
I was so struck by the quality of Meilo’s people in her art work—she works with water color, in a very impressionistic way — but the people seemed very distinct to me, and very real. I wanted to feel the character of the moms, their ethnicity, and their physicality, their emotion, and for them to look like all the moms that I had known and continue to know, in life. And Meilo’s art captures all of those aspects so beautifully. The crazy coincidence is that she is also a foreign mom, and lives in Scotland, where my Mom was from!
Buy My Mom is a Foreigner, But Not to Me ($12.74) on Amazon.
Disclaimer: Book and iBook version were provided by Chronicle Books for this review.