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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Why is Mommy Crying?, written by I. Cori Baill and illustrated by Heather Bell, is a children's picture book that helps parents and guardians navigate the difficult task of explaining early pregnancy loss to young readers. The book begins with a very young Max waking up in the night with his stuffed monkey, Mink. He makes his way to his parents' bedroom where he knows he will be welcome in their bed, but upon entering he sees his mother in a rocking chair, crying. Max asks the titular question, at which point, through her grief, his mother responds, "Sometimes a baby returns to be with God.” This leads to further questions from Max about himself and his mother. They comfort each other through the night until Max falls asleep, waking up in the morning with Mink and climbing into the usual place between his parents in their bed.
This is the first time I have read a children's book about miscarriage and I. Cori Baill does a good job in crafting a child-friendly narrative on this sensitive and difficult to explain tragedy in Why is Mommy Crying? The care and concern that Max feels for his grieving mother is both natural and sweet as it represents the bond they share. The message is easy to understand and very age-appropriate for families experiencing a loss of this magnitude who also believe in God, regardless of the form God takes but also to non-religious families. From a literary standpoint, the book is simple enough to be read by children. The illustrations by Heather Bell are extraordinary and truly bring the entire message to life. The combination of sketches, original art, and watercolor style works particularly well as Bell depicts the night sky that Max and his mother gaze up at as they imagine the soul of their lost family member in the heavens above them. It's beautifully illustrated and, paired with a strong message, I see this book being well received by its readers.