Book: Five Minutes’ Peace (1986) by Jill Murphy
Series: The Large Family
Category/Age: Older Picture Book, 2+ years
All Mrs. Large wants is five minutes’ peace from her energetic children, but chaos follows her all the way from the kitchen to the bath and back again.
How could you not love a book that starts out: “The children were having breakfast. This was not a pleasant sight.”? And besides, what does any mom really want? Just five minutes’ peace, of course! If you want to give a mom the gift of her dreams, give her a couple hours of babysitting and this book. Or cash. Your call.
I remember loving this series when I was young, and in fact, the Five Minutes’ Peace on my bookshelf is the one my mom read to us as children. One of the reasons I loved this book as a child was that it closely resembled my own family (the elephant version, at least) – three kids: boy, girl, boy, and the middle girl loved to read.
The series overall is excellent: Murphy has a way of poking fun at family life from a mother’s perspective (incidentally, I can’t think of any other picture books that are told from the mom’s point of view), while still managing to entertain kids. Five Minutes’ Peace is my favorite, though All In One Piece and A Piece of Cake are excellent also (don’t worry, not all the titles have peace or piece in them). One of the things that has delighted me the most when rereading a few of these books for this post is noticing the layers of fun details in the drawings. For example, the first glance shows an elephant family sitting around eating breakfast. Then you notice fun little things like “crayon drawings” of elephant stick figures tacked on the walls, and little elephant pictures in the newspaper.
It’s a fun little story that will appeal to parents and children, and the illustrations are utterly charming. If you haven’t yet met the Large family, I’d strongly recommend checking them out. It is an “older picture book” which means that for the amount of text on a page, you’ll probably have a hard time keeping a very young child interested all the way through. I generally can’t get all the way through it with my one-year old, but we do occasionally.
Side note: I will give a caveat about A Piece of Cake: I looked it up for this post and was surprised to see that a few Amazon reviewers absolutely tore it to shreds. The book is about the Large family exercising and going on a diet, and not having much success. It also uses the f-word (fat) which apparently has become more taboo in our culture than that other f-word. I don’t remember being permanently damaged by reading it as a child – although, come to think of it, from that day forward I’ve had absolutely no luck being diligent about exercising or dieting. Hmmm… So anyways, if this is a concern in your family, consider steering clear of this title.
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