Sunday, May 8, 2011

Favourite Moms


Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! I'm a little late, but it's been that kind of weekend - lots of fun and very little computer time! :)

So who's your favourite mom? In the literary world, of course.

When searching for literary moms, my mind immediately turned to the books I enjoyed so much as a child. Anne of Green Gables. The Hobbit. Nancy Drew.

Hmmm. No moms in those ones. A lot of my favourite MG & YA books follow this pattern, no parents, or more specifically, no moms. There are often mother figures who aren't moms, and sometimes aren't even women (check out last year's post for more on that!), but where are the moms? 

Harry Potter's mom is an influence on him, but she's not around much. Ron's mom, however, is an awesome mother figure!

Katniss Everdeen's mom is mostly broken by her life and the loss of her husband.

In Ranger's Apprentice, Will is an orphan.

In fact, in many of the books I read aloud to the kid, moms are notably absent from their lives or at least from the story. The Giver. Dogsled Dreams. Maniac Magee. The Outsiders. Leviathan. Hatchet. Invitation to the Game. Underground to Canada.

I think it's because moms are such powerful influences in our lives. There are a lot of things we don't do because we can hear our moms saying, "Do you think that's such a good idea?" They are often our moral compasses, our guides. At least for us lucky ones.

Fiction for young people is often much more interesting when the main characters have to provide their own moral compasses, choose their own paths. It makes it more difficult for the character, and thus much more fun for us! Especially for kids who often wonder what it would be like to make their own decisions all the time. Kids who imagine themselves in charge. No wonder books with absentee parents are so popular!

So who's your favourite literary mom?

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I'll be over at From the Write Angle tomorrow (Monday May 9th) discussing Info Dumps. I hope you'll find time to pop over and add your thoughts to the discussion!

73 comments:

  1. I can't think of one at the moment. I guess I'm tired. But I responded to the pansies. They were one of mother's favoritesalso. She had lots of them around the edge of the back yard of my childhood house; pansies and peonies for decoration day. We would drive fifty miles to the small town where she grew up to put the flowers on our relatives' graves. I like pansies the most; they were so colorful.
    Ann Best, Memoir Author

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  2. I think I love Max's mom, from Where the Wild Things Are...because she leaves him soup that is still warm.

    Happy Mother's Day!

    Shelley

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  3. Ann - me too! Pansies and daisies for me. They're such friendly, happy flowers! I love them.

    My mom loved peonies too - but they were always crawling with ants so they never got to be my fave :)

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  4. Shelley - Great choice!! I adore that book, but haven't looked at it in ages! Such a great story - thanks for the reminder :)

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  5. You are right, parents seem to be pretty absent in most of the books I read. I hadn't thought of that before.

    I'm glad you had a wonderful Mother's Day, Jemi. :)

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  6. Sharon - thanks! You too - mine was a lot of fun :)

    There are a lot of absentee parents - I think it's easier to focus on the kids as the primary decision makers and that's not easy when parents are around!

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  7. the mom in Matched was pretty good, yes? And I do think the mom in The Hunger Games is very interesting... by Mockingjay at least.

    Thanks, girl! Hope your day was swell~

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  8. Jemi, you make such a good pint. Where are the moms?

    I know I have another book coming out next year *fingers crossed* with a wonderful and loving mom.

    Hope you had a great Mother's Day!

    T.K.

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  9. I love pansies too- they're just so cheerful!

    I can't think of any literary moms off the top of my head, but I do like Calvin & Hobbes mom. That woman had the patience of Job!

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  10. Actually, I think most of my favorite books are mom-free! I guess moms can solve too many problems to be allowed in books (where we need more conflict.)

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  11. Happy Mother's Day!! Pansies are just adorable!

    This is probably the worst eg of a mother ( she does abandon her child! Oh dear!) but Madame Bovary is the best I can come up with this Monday morning! LOL! Take care
    x

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  12. Gosh! You're right. I can't think of a children's book that has a powerful mother figure. There's Philip Pullman's Northern Lights but that's a very different kind of mother figure (if you've not read it ignore this spoiler!)

    Then there are books like Joanne Harris' Chocolate where the mother/daughter relationship is central but of course this is not a children's book.

    Mother's day in the UK was in March, a difficult one for me as my Mum was very ill and now she's gone and I can't quite hear her voice in my head yet... but I hope I will very soon.

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  13. Ron's mom is my favorite literary mom. I can't think of a great mom in any other book. I can think of two dads though: in Hello Aurora and To Kill a Mockingbird.

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  14. Having seen this on another blog, I like the ghost mom from Barrie Summy's series. :) It's hard to think of them b/c so many books don't really flesh out the parents.

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  15. Leigh - I've got Matched on my wishlist, but haven't read it yet!

    Katniss' mom does get stronger throughout Mockingjay, doesn't she?

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  16. TK - sounds terrific!!

    I think it's more fun to have the YA kids making decisions all on their own, so the moms fade into the background or disappear altogether! :)

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  17. Stephanie - Calvin & Hobbes mom is definitely one of the best!! :)

    I love pansies too - they're so friendly!

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  18. Elizabeth - exactly!! It seems like we need our moms to be elsewhere to make the characters more in charge!! :)

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  19. Old Kitty - That's hysterical! Madame Bovary it is! :)

    Hope you & Charlie had a wonderful Mother's Day :)

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  20. Rosalind - It's so hard for you right now. You and your mom were so close too. My dad died only days before Father's Day several years back and I know how very difficult it can be. Take care. *hugs*

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  21. Theresa - I think Atticus is one fo the best ever! It's really interesting to see that there are more father figures who are strong rather than mother figures.

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  22. Laura - I don't know Barrie Summy's series - I'll have to check that out. I think it's more fun for the MG or YA readers to imagine what it's like to be in control, so there are fewer fleshed out parents.

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  23. At the moment, all I can think of are bad literary moms!

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  24. I like the pansies! So did my Mom!

    I liked the mom in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Her name was Caroline & she was a tower of strength for her family as they lived in first Wisconsin & then they traveled in their horse & wagon to Dakota Territory.

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  25. I like any mom who bakes chocolate chip cookies and lets the kids lick the batter off the mixing things (just what the heck are they called???). Brings back memories of me and my mom when I was a kid.

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  26. Crap! I could name movie and TV moms.

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  27. An odd pair leap to my mind - both from classics. Marmee from Little Women and Fantine from Les Miserables, who sacrificed everything for the sake of Cosette.

    Love the pansies.

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  28. Sorry, Jemi, but none spring to mind.
    Karen

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  29. Happy Mothers' Day, Jemi!

    I'm with Lisa. I liked Caroline, too.

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  30. Interesting how hard it is to come up with answers.

    I was reminded of this on another blog, but the teenage mother in Margo Lanahan's "Tender Morsels" is strong in her own way, although her choices don't always work out the way she expects (been there). ;-)

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  31. I once took a Which Harry Potter Character Are You test and mine was Mrs. Weasley. And I was so glad! I'm all about the family!!

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  32. Kelly keeps beating me at everything...my fav literary mom is also Mrs. Weasley. That woman gives good love.

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  33. A most enjoyable post, we celebrated Mothers Day on April 3rd this year.
    Hope all the Mothers enjoyed their day,

    Yvonne.

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  34. Diane - I know! There must be a whole lot more rotten moms in fiction than great ones! :)

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  35. Notes - Caroline is a good one! I never did read the books, but in the TV show she was wonderful too :)

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  36. Stephen - that's a good one! I guess I'm a good mom then - my kids always got lick the beaters (and yup - that's what they're called :))

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  37. Alex - me too! But not too many literary ones! It's really odd how much of a gap there is between the 2!

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  38. Linda - Marmee is a great one! I'd forgotten about her! I'll have to read Les Mis ones of these days - I don't remember it well enough! :)

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  39. Karen - it's funny isn't it, how hard it is to come up with good ones!! :)

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  40. Thanks Talli!! :)

    I agree - Caroline is a great one!! :)

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  41. Kathryn - I agree - I think every mom has been there! You think you're making the right decision & then... :)

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  42. Kelly - congrats!! That's the best result you could get :) She's all about the family!!

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  43. Anita - lol - Kelly does that!!

    And Mrs. Weasley is the best! She's one of my all time favourite characters! :)

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  44. Yvonne - thank you! There are several different dates for Mother's Day around the world! Hope you're doing well! :)

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  45. Wow. I didn't realize how difficult that question would be to answer until I tried to think of someone. :-)

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  46. Happy belated Mother's Day to you! And it's so true that there's not very many moms in the books I read. But I am reading I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU right now, and I like the mom in that. She's a single mom, and she's trying to have a relationship with her sociopathic son. As you can imagine, it's hard.

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  47. Shannon - I know! I was surprised too. I fully expected to be able to list dozens! But that's not the case! :)

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  48. Thanks Elana - you too! :)

    That sounds like a terrific book! What an intriguing premise. It's such a difficult situation. She sounds like a good, complex character.

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  49. Happy belated Mother's Day!

    I read it long ago and can't even remember the names of characters, but I liked the mother in Little Women.

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  50. Did you ever notice that Disney (at least classic Disney) kills off all of the warm loving moms and replaces them with evil step-mothers? I think Walt had a problem!

    So favorite literary mom?

    Marmie in Little Women

    Ma in the Little House series

    Olivia Walton (although I think her name was different in the original book)

    and didn't Dick & Jane have a mother? Kind of sad that I can't remember. Especially since I remember their dog, Spot!

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  51. Medeia - thanks - and to you as well! :)

    I did love Marmee in Little Women. She is one of the few I can think of who is strong and reliable! Mind you, it's been eons since I read it - might just be my memory :)

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  52. Beth - I remember Spot too! But not the mom... Says something about who the important characters were :)

    Those are good examples - although I never did read Little House or Waltons (didn't even know that was a book!) - just watched the TV shows! :)

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  53. Happy Mother's Day!

    My favourite literary mum would have to be Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, because she's totally mad!

    Ellie Garratt

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  54. Ellie - thanks! And to you too :)

    I actually didn't finish Pride & P so I don't know, but that sounds like a great reason :P

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  55. oh, I'm sorry to hear about your dad, Jemi! Hugs to you.
    You make a great point about why Mom's seem to be absent in MG! So true!
    A Mom that really stands out in recent reads for me is the one in Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. A strong and fantastic character.

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  56. Terry - thanks - it's been a lot of years and I still miss him every day. :)

    It's really interesting to find so few strong moms - so I'm definitely adding Shades of Gray to my wishlist! Can't wait :)

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  57. What great observations. I actually can't think of a favorite literary mom, but I love this post. Hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day!

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  58. I've been wondering about orphan syndrome in YA books for a while. I'm having a hard time thinking of a literary mom I admire - but Ron's mom would trump them even if I did. She's the best.

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  59. Yes, so many absent parental figures so the kids can be in charge. My favorite book mom is probably Ron's. Harry's is awesome, too. Her love was powerful and true. <3

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  60. Oh, what a fun question! Um, maybe one of my favorites would be the mom in 19 Seconds by Jodi Piccoult. Protective, wanting what's best for her daughter, plodding along until she learned the truth.

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  61. Cynthia - thanks! My mother's day was terrific - hope yours was the same :)

    It's funny how few strong mom characters there are in literature!

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  62. Kari - Mrs Weasley really is terrific! She's one of the best moms around :)

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  63. Julie - my daughter mentioned her too when I brought up this question to her! She loves Picoult's books! :)

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  64. Dawn - Harry's mom was awesome too - just such an understandably small part under the circumstances. I'm glad he found Mrs. Weasley! :)

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  65. ah, not sure who would be my favourite literary mom. Don't remember many moms from books.
    But when it comes to movies and TV I love Bree as mom in DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES :) She's kinda like a posh general in the house :)

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  66. I can think of a really TERRIBLE mother in the book I'm reading at the mo (FORBIDDEN by Tabitha Suzuma), but you're right that there aren't that many moms to choose from in YA fiction. You've got a good pick there with Molly Weasley. (The line, "Not my daughter, you b****!" comes to mind!)

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  67. Sorry I'm late :( But it's a great post! Enchanted Inkpot just did a similar one last week. It's definitely easier on the writer not to have an involved mom. My current WIP has a mother, but she's living in denial. Poor dear. He he he.

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  68. Ellie - my comment to you (and about 10 or 15 other comments) has been eaten by blogger! Sorry.

    I never did read P&P - one of these days I really should do that! Sounds like a crazy mom who would be fun to read about! :P

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  69. Lisa - thanks!

    I didn't see the one over at Enchanged Inkpot - I'll have to check it out :)

    I think absentee & troubled parents make so many strong novels! It's kinda funny :)

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  70. Oh, blogger be back :D Happy belated mom's day.

    My favorite literary mom is ... probably Mrs. Dashwood in Sense & Sensibility.

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  71. M Pax - I know! Blogger not only disappeared for however long, but it also ate about 10 or 12 comments I can't get back!

    I haven't read any of those books from that era. I tried Jayne when I was a teen and didn't really enjoy it. I have to give them another shot!

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  72. The Mom's that come to mind for me are in Little Women and Wrinkle in Time. And, believe it or not, Are You There God, It's Me Margaret. (I believe she had a mom, if my memory serves me correctly. Been a long time since reading these) :)
    Mom's do tend have a role in the decisions their daughters or sons make even if they have died, like in Ponyboy's world. I love all the books you posted!

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  73. Lynn - I was wondering about A Wrinkle in Time the other day too - it's been so long since I've read it. I think it's time to correct it.

    Ponyboy and his brothers certainly were affected by the mom in the Outsiders. :)

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