Picture book shares a sense of maternal legacy along with interactive imagery

Illustrator and author’s shared love of nature, of their home in Sask., showcased in visuals

I Know a Woman: A Song for Mothers is a loving tribute to the women who shape us. Adapted from the 2014 song by the same name, Sharon Gudereit’s words are based in her personal experience.

“The song was written about my real relationship with my mother and how I feel about her,” explains Gudereit. When she first told her mother that she’d written a song about her, she was keen to know how it ended.

“She was very happy, but the first question she asked me was, ‘I don’t die at the end or anything, do I?’”

In book form, Gudereit’s adapted lyrics are accompanied by Polaroid-like illustrations that evoke common childhood experiences and memories.

“We really wanted to focus on the mother-daughter relationship dynamic in this book,” explains artist Miranda Pringle. Other human family members are noticeably absent from the pages, making it a more inclusive choice for non-nuclear families. Pets, on the other hand, are in plentiful supply on every page.

“Mom has a way with animals, and I tease her that she is like Dr. Doolittle,” says Gudereit, who adds that when she was growing up, “the pets sometimes outnumbered the people.”

Sharon Gudereit
Sharon Gudereit

Mother Earth provides a warm backdrop in the illustrations, with scenery familiar to Prairie readers.

“The author and I are both from Regina, Saskatchewan, and wanted to feature the beauty of our home,” says Pringle.

Changing seasons show the passage of time, but nature also provides an interactive element: butterflies hidden in each scene.

“Sharon and I are both teachers,” explains Pringle, “and we know how fun it can be for students to look for something special on each page. We also know, for many people, butterflies are friendly reminders of passed loved ones and that could be a neat connection for some readers.”

Both the lyrics and the art carry a narrative of maternal legacy, of a mother and a daughter growing old and growing up, and nurturing the next generation.

Miranda Pringle
Miranda Pringle

“I guess when I wrote the song, I was thinking that [my mom] is getting older and that day will come eventually when she will be gone,” admits Gudereit. “Little did I know that the next year she would have a devastating stroke, and we would almost lose her! Thank goodness that didn’t happen, but when she is gone one day, her love and teachings will live on inside of me and my daughters forever.”

I Know a Woman celebrates the relationships children have with the important women in their lives. “I want [this book to help children] reflect on and treasure the special relationship that exists between themselves and their own mother (or any strong woman figure in their lives),” says Gudereit.

“I want them to realize how strong, courageous, and capable that woman is, but [also] that she was once a carefree young child just like the reader is now. I want them to know that her love will always be with them, even when she has passed on.”