Papa’s House, Mama’s House by Jean Lee C. Patindol ( Author ) , Mark Salvatus ( Illustrator): A Book Review

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I‘ve got a ” I-Read-Like-a- Child Syndrome”  now.

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A heart-breaking scene in the story:

One day I asked Papa,

“ Papa, why can’t you and Mama live with us in one home?”

Papa said, “ Do you think trains and planes  can  fly together ?”

And I said,  “ Uhmm… I guess not. Trains go by land and planes fly  in air”.

Papa patted my head and smiled.

The next day, I asked Mama.

“ Mama, why can’t you and Papa live with us in one home?”

Mama took out my paint  set and said,

“ Let’s mix white and yellow together. What color do you get?”

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I felt as though I was the mother being asked by the child, at loss for words , confused  how I should explain to a child about my  separation from my husband. The same situation if I were the father.

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The story is the imaginary product of the writer’s true experience  when , some weeks after  she and her husband separated,  her five-year-old son asked her,

“ Mama, what is a broken home?”

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As the writer is aware of how a broken family usually goes like, the mother   and the  father came to terms that their three children: Bianca, Anna, and  probably the youngest –daughter narrator , will take spend time with each other according to the days agreed upon. The three daughters will stay with their mother from Mondays to Thursdays; with their father from Fridays to Sundays. The story  also tells  the way they perceive their parents personality as they  get along with them. For them, their father  sounds somewhat  a stickler for  whatever they do  whereas their mother is somewhat lenient as long as they are responsible for the  things they do.  As they grow up,  they come to the point that they are confused about their  differences with other families.

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I may be a broken family  , not in a literal meaning as the  common perception of society that a mother and  father separate  but in a sense that  my mother passed away when my   younger sister was still three years old then. We were also still considered young  at that time, for we were not responsible enough for ourselves. So, no wonder  this book had  an emotional impact on me. I felt as if there is something missing  in my life that I have been looking for and I see in  other families wih envy. Besides, I understand the writer, probably so do you if you are in the same boat. But I know anyone can be affected by this.

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Another  thing that I liked in this book is its unique , but semi-abstract illustrations. Its  highlight backdrop is as red as Chinese lucky color( I guess the writer is the extract of Chinese.  ); then, mixed with Filipino things.

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With the benefit of hindsight, I want to realize how this book educates children since this is recommended for kids ages 6 and above. I have come up with a developmental psychologist’s review:

“ It sends the message that children in “ two homes” are not different, nor are they loved and nurtured any less by their parents, than children in two- parent homes. “ Papa’s House, Mama’s House opens the way for greater tolerance , understanding, and empathy in children and adults alike. “

Despite the expert’s opinion, honestly, I still doubt how this book affects a young reader. If I pursued my dream to be a child psychologist, it would be my ideal subject of scientific studies.

I enjoy reading children books now. It may be due to my deprivation when I was still young  that  my  parents were not able to  buy  me books a child should read.

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Literary Awards: 2004 PBBY-Salanga Grand Prize Winner/ 2004 PBBY-Alcala Grand Prize Winner

Rating:                4/5 stars

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