I have been woefully absent from Perfect Picture Book Friday as of late, but I will correct that today by celebrating one of my all-time favorite picture books, which was written by none other than our December featured 12 x 12 in 2012 author — Eileen Spinelli.

When Mama Comes Home Tonight

Written by Eileen Spinelli, Illustrated by Jane Dyer

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, September, 1998

Suitable for: Ages 0-5

Themes/Topics: Bedtime, Motherhood, Family, Daily Routine, Love, Lullabye

Opening/Synopsis: From Publisher’s Weekly: Mother returns from her job to spend an evening of play and bath time with a sleepy, grateful toddler in this comforting picture book. Spinelli’s brief, rhythmic sentences immediately establish the mood: “When Mama comes home from work, dear child,/ when Mama comes home tonight,/ she’ll cover you with kisses,/ she’ll hug you sweet and tight.” The book works marvelously as a soporific, and will reassure anxiously waiting children as well as the parents who dash home to put them to bed.

Activities: This book just begs to be read to a child who’s curled up in your lap in a rocking chair. I honestly can’t think of a better activity than that, especially since it is geared for the youngest children. Make reading this book a bedtime ritual, as I did for years. You could also use it to talk to children about their own evening/bedtime routines. Are they the same or different from the ones in this book? Which activities do they look forward to the most and why?

Why I Like This Book: As I mentioned in my introduction to Eileen for her featured author post, When Mama Comes Home Tonight helped me survive leaving my three-month old daughter to go back to work in the banking industry. For two years, this book was my touchstone with my daughter at a time when, racing home exhausted and spent, I needed the perfect words to communicate to my daughter how much I loved her. This book gave me those words in a beautiful package. Reading it to her is one of my favorite memories of her babyhood.

For more fantastic picture books and resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.

Categories: 12 x 12 Featured Author, 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Parenting, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Picture Books, Poetry, Rhyming · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Sounds like it would be a good book for a babysitting grandma to read during those days when only Mama will do…

  2. Susanna Leonard Hill

    This sounds so lovely and perfect, Julie, and I can imagine many, many moms and children would find this a wonderful and comforting book to have. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  3. I love comforting stories like this, Julie. Wonderful choice for PPBF. Great activities. Mama’s worldwide need this lovely little piece of well-being for them and their little ones. 🙂

  4. It must have been heart-wrenching to leave your daughter in her young life. I’m glad this book was a comfort to both of you!

  5. Don’t know this one – and thanks for sharing it’s special meaning to you!

  6. I can see this book working as an excellent gift for first time Mommies going back to work. Your suggested activity of engaging your little one in conversations about their feelings and special likes are the best for little ones. It gives them a sense of how special their role is in the family structure and that their ideas matter. Thank you, Julie!

  7. Peaceful book! Mrs. Spinelli is a wonderful poet and author! 🙂

  8. This sounds wonderful! I think it’s great that there is a book out there that working moms can share with their kids (and, of course, anyone can read to their kids). It seems like working moms are kind of left out of books for children. Or maybe I haven’t seen the right books.

    Thanks for stopping by the Pikes Peak Writers’ blog!

    Shannon at Writing From the Peak

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