Bookworm: These books are the motherload

'Living with Loss' lends an assist; get ‘Weird but True! Know-It-All Rocks & Minerals.’ Your kid will really dig it.

Terri Schlichenmeyer
Mother's Day Books from various publishers.

Mother’s Day Books

  • c.2022, various publishers
  • $17.95-$28, various page counts

A tiny fistful of flowers is sweet. A package wrapped with an entire roll of tape came from the heart, you know that. Likewise, when dad helps kiddo buy chocolate, it’s much-appreciated. But hey, drop some hints here: what you really want for Mother’s Day is one (or more) of these great books ...

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For the mother of a child with special needs, “Ain’t That a Mother” by Adiba Nelson (Blackstone Publishing, $27.99) is a book about being a mother, a daughter, and a caretaker of a child who needs you. It’s funny, but also serious and perhaps helpful, if Nelson’s life is like yours. Also look for “Where the Children Take Us” by Zain E. Asher (Amistad, $27.99), the story of a woman who, because of a tragedy, becomes a single mother of four in an instant. This story of raising children in a not-so-good situation is one you can’t miss.

For a new mother, or a mother-to-be, you can’t go wrong with “Mom Milestones” by Grace Farris (Workman, $17.95). This cute, humorous book is filled with simple drawings, so it’s fast and easy to read. It’s also useful, long-term, since it takes readers through the first seven years of motherhood.

The woman who’s a mother to her mother now will want “Everything Left to Remember” by Steph Jagger (Flatiron Books, $27.99) is Jagger’s story of a road trip with her mom, who is dealing with dementia. It’s a beautiful tale made poignant – what is about to be lost looms throughout, but so does love.

Star-struck Moms will enjoy “Wise Up” by Karen Duffy (Seal, $28.00), who was an MTV-VJ and a movie star long before she was somebody’s mother. There’s a lot of advice inside this book, some inspiration, anecdotes that’ll help you make sense of some things that bug you most, and a hugely satisfying number of side-stories that are the perfect distractions, too.

The woman who’s determined to keep her sewing, crafts, painting, and writing skills current-with-baby will appreciate “The Baby on the Fire Escape” by Julie Phillips (Norton, $27.95), which looks at the life a woman has outside that of being someone’s Mommy. How does creativity fit in with motherhood? Can you have small children and an artsy side, too? This book fits artists and writers, of course, but it may also speak to those who are still working from home with hopes of making it even a little bit easier.

And finally, for the divorced Mom who needs to hear from someone going through similar circumstances, “Moms Moving On” by Michelle Dempsey-Multack, MS, CDS (Simon Element, $26.99) is a book on co-parenting, conflict resolution, and care of self. In short: it’s exactly what you want to read when the going gets rough.

If these books don’t exactly fit your tastes, be sure to ask your favorite bookseller or librarian for help. Outside of a fistful of flowers, a box of chocolates, and a securely-taped box, they’ll know what you want: something new, helpful, funny, and great to read.

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“Grief is Love: Living with Loss”

  • By Marisa Renee Lee
  • c. 2022, HarperLegacy
  • $26, 192 pages

It happened so fast. One minute, your loved one was talking, laughing, alive – and the next minute they were gone, as if a thick line were drawn somewhere between life and not-life. Even if you had time to prepare, time to get used to their impending death, it happened too fast. You have to continue without them ... but how? In the new book “Grief is Love” by Marisa Renee Lee, you’ll see what may be next for you.

“Grief is Love: Living with Loss” by Marisa Renee Lee.

So, you’ve recently lost someone and the fog has yet to lift. You’re in disbelief and your closest companion is grief, which Lee describes as “the experience of navigating your loss, figuring out how to deal with the absence of your loved one forever” while still refusing to live without the love of the one you’ve lost.

Lee says that she was “a strong Black woman, a type-A striver” in the aftermath of her mother’s death, and she thought she had to stuff her feelings aside and bounce back quickly. She didn’t give herself a chance to understand her emotions, including guilt and anger, and tamping them down just made things worse. She came to realize that she needed permission to grieve and feel, in a manner that seemed right to her.

She also needed to find a place, physically or emotionally, where she felt safe to grieve. That, she says, is particularly difficult for Black people and for men in general who may have issues with vulnerability.

She learned that grief is not a timeline or a should-anything; it can be a lifelong process that can come back to surprise you, even at the most inopportune times. Anxiety, depression, and mental illness may hit you when you grieve, too; so, can deep, fierce anger, as Lee learned.

Don’t be afraid, she says, to reach out to people you can trust to help you carry your burden. Also, don’t be afraid to set boundaries when needed. And finally, remember that you will be changed by someone’s death because “You are their mark on this world.”

You are their legacy.

More than 6,000 people die in the U.S. every day. You’re only concerned with one of them. “Grief is Love” helps you to endure.

It may take a little double-checking, though. Author Marisa Renee Lee uses so much of her own experiences in this book that help for grieving readers may not initially feel as forthcoming as you may wish it would be. Even so, there’s much to glean inside her tales because she’s honest about her journey, her various feelings, and the bumps along the road. Readers who are deep in the throes of grief will also be greatly comforted by her assertion that your person died but the love you shared never will.

Lee reminds readers that joy will eventually come by again and that seems more like a promise than anything, which is all you may need from a book like this. For you, “Grief is Love” is right for when the worst thing happened.

“Weird But True! Know-It-All Rocks & Minerals”

  • By Michael Burgan
  • c. 2022, National Geographic Kids
  • $12.99, 192 pages

It wasn’t a very good trip.

You caught the toe of your shoe on a rock and you skinned your knee when you tried not to fall. Came down hard on your elbow, too, hurt your shoulder as you went, and you almost did a face-plant. You tripped; it wasn’t good but if you read “Weird But True! Know-It-All Rocks & Minerals” by Michael Burgan, you’ll at least know what kind of rock it was.

“Weird But True! Know-It-All Rocks & Minerals” by Michael Burgan.

But first, let’s blow your mind: the sand on a beach and the gigantic boulders near it are both basically the same thing, in different stages of change. You thought rocks were just rocks, but you were wrong.

Basically, “a rock is a naturally occurring solid object usually made from minerals” and all the continents, every mountain, every island on Earth is made of one or all of three kinds of rocks, igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary. What’s more, it’s possible that those rocks, no matter what their size now, can “transform from one type to another,” like some kind robot toy.

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Okay, well, so there are rocks on the ground. Big deal?

Yes, it is a pretty big deal! Rocks may determine what kind of weather you’ll have. They may determine where you live, too, since you can live in some kinds of rocks. Look around and rocks can be landmarks, they can become caves, floors, weapons, jewelry, and materials for artwork. Rocks can become statues. In mineral form, they can become food. In mineral form, in fact, they can be a part of the human body!

Alright, so you’re convinced. You want to go play with rocks and maybe study them someday. Volcanologists study volcanoes and lava. Geologists and mineralogists study the Earth and the materials that make it. Archaeologists and paleontologists know all about old rocks and the things that used to live on the planet. And if you want to get involved now, this book will show you how you can become a “rock hound.”

In just a few short weeks, you may be helping your child find something interesting to do. If it’s educational, that’s even better. “Weird but True! Know-It-All Rocks & Minerals” offers up a new hobby to fit a budget.

To whet a kid’s appetite for rock hunting, author Michael Burgan begins with the basics by including color pictures and short chapters on rocks and minerals, their formation, and other scientific info that doesn’t feel one bit classroomy. Kids can learn at their own pace with this book and they can skip around, if that’s what they want, because there’s much to learn and Burgan makes it look like fun. For sure, with a pair of eyes, permission, and this book, your child’s summer vacation could really rock.

Don’t be embarrassed if you’re caught browsing this book. Adults will enjoy the many sidebars, photos, and info inside this book, though it’s meant for kids ages 7-to-12. So, get “Weird but True! Know-It-All Rocks & Minerals.” Your kid will really dig it.

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The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books. Read past columns at marconews.com.