They Called Me Mama
Independently Published (2021)
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (01/19)
From an adventurer’s point of view, the photographs in this book are lovely to set your eyes on. With the location being this small village named Bermudian Landing, set in the stunning landscape of Belize, the photos are a huge draw for the reader. From the point of view one has as a lover of all critters on the farm, the photos do the exact same thing. It is a wonderful mixture of sheep, guinea hens, dogs, and more, readers will absolutely love.
With that said, when it comes to the age group this book is best for, this reviewer would agree with the author and say that for the younger readers out there, a parent should sit down and read this with them, being that the lead character, Mama, shares her life story in this one that involves the downside of life, as well. Which means parents would want to be present to pick and choose what they want their littler tykes to learn about.
After fifty years away from her farm, Gloria Swift returns to this majestic location where she lived the first 18 years of her life. She puts together a tale regarding a sheep she called Mama back then, and shares the emotions, the fun relationship and friendship she and Mama had. And, I have to say, you’re going to love Mama.
Like my own personal puppy named Sinatra, Mama was spoiled rotten. And, as the author states, Mama knew it. Three ladies took care of Mama and her brother, who were the first to be brought to this farm, that Mama refers to as Curly (because she had curly hair); Sweaters (because, of course, she wore sparkling sweaters all the time); and Hats Lucy (because, well… you know, she was the lover of all hats). When Mama came to the farm, she began baaing as much as these three ladies chattered, apparently, and became part of the gang. But not only did the humans become her friends, Mama also became the matriarch of the entire farm and the “favorite” creature in the farmer’s eyes.
Joining forces, Mama and the farmer tell her story with the addition of those wonderful pictures (love the coconut trees) to help children learn more about life on the farm. We learn that wherever Gloria Swift was on the farm, when Mama heard her voice, she came running. We learn that Mama was one that the flock treated with total respect, even to the point where they would assemble at the front of the gate to their pen to let Mama walk through first, and then they’d follow.
Mama was also a sneaky critter who liked to “disappear” from the flock to eat alone. When the rest found her, Mama would simply continue eating and they would wait for her to be complete. (Sounds like Mama was more like ‘The Godfather’ at times, doesn’t it?)
We learn all about farm life through Mama and the farmer’s eyes. From turkey hens that gave “signals” to their chicks in order to train them, to Mama and her unique ways as the sheep talks about her challenges on the farm through her own eyes. Readers also hear about one haunting night when a storm broke free from the sky and pit bulls entered the pen. Gloria Swift is a good lady to share Mama’s story, as well as her child Baa-Baa’s story, but is also a great lady for telling parents up front that there “are real emotional issues” told in Mama’s story “so a parent is a good person to read this with.” I completely agree. But that should definitely not have you turning away from the tale, especially since all will enjoy seeing this beautiful locale and meeting Mama, Baa-Baa, and many others that will definitely find a place in all readers’ hearts.