Are You My Mother?

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Are You My Mother?
AuthorP. D. Eastman
IllustratorP. D. Eastman
Cover artistEastman
CountryUnited States
GenreChildren's book
PublisherRandom House
Publication date
June 12, 1960 (Renewed in 1988)

Are You My Mother? is a children's book written and illustrated by P. D. Eastman. It was published by Random House Books for Young Readers on June 12, 1960, as part of its Beginner Books series, which caters to young children ages 3–9.

Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association listed the book as one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children".[1] It was one of the "Top 100 Picture Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal.[2]

Plot summary[edit]

Are You My Mother? is a story about a hatchling bird. His mother, thinking her egg will stay in her nest where she left it, leaves her egg alone and flies off to find food. The baby bird hatches while the mother is away. The hatchling does not understand where his mother is so he goes to look for her. While he cannot yet fly, he walks, and in his search, he asks a kitten (who did not hear a word the baby bird said because he says nothing), a hen, a dog, and a cow if they are his mother, but none of them are.

Refusing to give up, he does not walk, but runs as he sees an old car, which he realizes certainly cannot be his mother. In desperation, the hatchling calls out to a boat, and then a plane (but neither respond), and at last, he approaches and climbs onto the teeth of an enormous steam shovel calling to it "Mother, Mother! Here I am, Mother!". However, after it belches "SNORT" from its exhaust stack, the bird (thinking it's a snort) cries "You are not my mother! You are a Snort!" As the machine shudders and grinds into motion, he cannot escape. The hatchling is put into danger and cries out, "I want my mother!"

At that moment, the steam shovel drops the hatchling into his nest, and his mother returns. The two are reunited, much to their delight, and the baby bird recounts to his mother the adventures he had looking for her.


The regular version has 64 pages.[3] An abridged and simplified 24-page board book has also been published by Random House.[4]

On August 13, 1991, Are You My Mother? was part of the Beginner Book Video series, directed and produced by Ray Messecar. The cast included Ardys Flavelle, Merwin Goldsmith, Marian Hailey, Ron Marshall, Brendon Parry and Jim Thurman.[5]

ArtsPower National Touring Theatre created an hour-long musical performance based on the book geared for children grades K-2, with music by Richard DeRosa.[6]

Critical reaction[edit]

Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association listed the book as one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children".[1] It was one of the "Top 100 Picture Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal.[2]

Family law professor Elizabeth Bartholet criticized the book for promoting what she described as an "anti-adoption" point of view. Her colleague Barbara Bennett Woodhouse disagreed, saying that it represented a more nuanced view that children need parenthood of any form but that there are benefits in maintaining connections with their biological origins.[7] Economics professor David A. Anderson and psychology professor Mykol Hamilton cited Are You My Mother? as an example of children's literature that reinforces cultural marginalization of fatherhood.[8] Barbara Sands Worth and education professor Dorothy S. Strickland describe Are You My Mother? as a "longtime children's favorite" that allows children to safely identify with a childlike, trouble-making character because the character is an anthropomorphic animal.[9]

Cartoonist Alison Bechdel titled her memoir Are You My Mother? in reference to Eastman's book, invoking her own search for a maternal figure.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Bird, Elizabeth (July 6, 2012). "Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results". School Library Journal "A Fuse #8 Production" blog. Archived from the original on February 26, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  3. ^ "Are You My Mother? : P. D. Eastman : 9780001713222".
  4. ^ "Are You My Mother? : P.D. Eastman : 9780679890478".
  5. ^ [user-generated source]
  6. ^ ArtsPower. "Are You My Mother?". Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  7. ^ Woodhouse, Barbara Bennett (1996). "Protecting Children's Rights of Identity Across Frontiers of Culture, Political Community, and Time". In Douglas, Gillian; Lowe, Nigel (eds.). Families Across Frontiers. Brill. pp. 269–270. ISBN 9789004637177.
  8. ^ Anderson, David A.; Hamilton, Mykol (2005). "Gender Role Stereotyping of Parents in Children?s Picture Books: The Invisible Father". Sex Roles. 52 (3–4): 145–151. doi:10.1007/s11199-005-1290-8. ISSN 0360-0025.
  9. ^ Strickland, Dorothy S.; Worth, Barbara Sands (1981). "Books for the children". Day Care and Early Education. 8 (3): 58–60. doi:10.1007/BF01617274. ISSN 0092-4199.
  10. ^ Gregory, Chase (2019-09-01). "Thwarting Repair: Gutter, Stutter, Are You My Mother?". Differences. 30 (2): 72–92. doi:10.1215/10407391-7736049. ISSN 1040-7391.