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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Mars Needs Moms!

Reviewed: July 1, 2007
By: Berkley Breathed
Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguins)
38 pages, $21.00

From the subversive mind of Berkley Breathed comes this clever little spoof about mothers and their sons. The title suggests that the writer-illustrator had that old sci-fi pic ďMars Needs WomenĒ in mind while he was writing, drawing and painting it.

Milo doesnít like his mom much. She wrecks things: steals summer by making him work in the garden: ruins meals by serving broccoli and carrots; makes him miserable by having him do household chores, like taking out the smelly garbage; gets upset when he tints his sister all over with perma-fab dye.

ďMothers are thundering, humorless tyrants,Ē he thought.

It was enough to make him yell, ďI SURE DONíT KNOW WHATíS SO SPECIAL ABOUT MOTHERS!Ē when she packed him off to his bedroom.

Meanwhile, on Mars, where the Martians have no mothers because they grow out of the ground like potatoes, the Martians have been watching Earth, and have decided that they need moms. The raiding party has a little trouble initially, but they manage to gas Miloís Mom and haul her off to their ship. Milo only just hears them and manages to follow them for reasons he canít quite put together.

And itís on Mars that Milo learns why Moms really matter. I wonít tell you how that happens, except to say that itís the first time we see his Mom through something other than the eyes of an angry child.

I always have the feeling the Berkley Breathed has a lot of fun doing his work. This is, I believe, his fourth childrenís picture book since the days of the Bloom Country and Outland comic strips. Seems to me the little boy in the first strip was called Milo, but I canít look that up right now because the wifi hotspot supposed to be offered by Rogers Internet isnít working at this motel just outside Stratford.

At any rate, itís an amusing tale told in words, single and double page paintings and smaller sketches that show some of the necessary action sequences. Lots of fun here.

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