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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 “Mars Needs Women” in mind while he was writing, drawing and painting it.

Milo doesn’t 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.

“Mothers are thundering, humorless tyrants,” he thought.

It was enough to make him yell, “I SURE DON’T KNOW WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT MOTHERS!” 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 Milo’s Mom and haul her off to their ship. Milo only just hears them and manages to follow them for reasons he can’t quite put together.

And it’s on Mars that Milo learns why Moms really matter. I won’t tell you how that happens, except to say that it’s 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 children’s 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 can’t look that up right now because the wifi hotspot supposed to be offered by Rogers Internet isn’t working at this motel just outside Stratford.

At any rate, it’s 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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