“My Mom’s got alien blobs inside of her. They’re called cancer.” Punk Wig is a children’s picture book with a story of a little boy who supports his mom as she gets her “alien blobs zapped with medicine”.
I love kid’s books… books with lots of pictures and a great story. Reading parents know what I’m talking about. I like to read them aloud to my kids and use all sorts of different voices. Maybe I love them because I am still a kid at heart, who knows?
There are times when you read a book and know that it is important. The potential is right there in your hands and you can only imagine the impact that this book could have if people knew of its existence.
Punk Wig a one of those books. It is a story of a little boy whose mom has cancer. The book is written from the boy’s point of view, in a child’s language. This book is unlike any I have read before. Lori Ries writes about this very serious subject in a matter of fact way and adds a hint of humor. Erin Eitter Kono’s illustrations enrich the story line. They are comfortingly simple, yet show a sense of fun.
The story begins with a Mom, Dad, and a little boy heading out to the hospital. The little boy explains that his “mom has alien blobs inside of her”. Next we see Mom in bed in the hospital, surrounded by flowers and cards. Later when Mom is home, there are several pictures where she looks tired and worn out. The little boy is loving and comforting to his mom and says, “I… give her my gorilla cup that was mine when I was little.” Later, the cancer treatment causes Mom’s hair to fall out. When Mom is feeling better, they go to “Harriet’s Hair” and try on wigs. They have a fun time trying on all of these crazy wigs! Mom eventually chooses a spiky orange long wig and it is named Punk Wig.
The book focuses on the importance of just being together as mom and son. They are shown picking out a pumpkin (as orange as the wig!), swinging together, and of course, trying on all of those wacky wigs. My favorite picture of the whole book is Mom wearing a black leather jacket, jeans and her orange spiky Punk Wig! At the end of the book, Mom’s hair has grown back and the little boy is grinning ear to ear: he now gets to wear the Punk Wig.
Lori Ries gets it just right. She blends just the right amount of sensitivity, childlike charm with a healthy sense of humor.
Children often times are the innocent victims when a parent has cancer. Explaining to children what is happening can be a tricky endeavor. A book like Punk Wig might be the perfect tool to begin that conversation: simple language, attractive pictures, and an amusing story of love and support.