‘Mum’s Jumper’ smells of Mum. Dad and his daughter find it amongst Mum’s things when they get around to sorting them out. Mum loved this jumper. As time passes, its smell changes. It is washed.
The jumper is a marker of time as it passes following Mum’s death. We track this from the final hospital visit, to the confusion of flowers and food and homilies that disturb and confuse, to a summertime resolution. What do the adults mean? Mum’s daughter narrates the story, sharing her feelings – ‘the sounds and voices around me were distant and floaty. My body ached, like I’d been swimming for days; how could I get to the shore?’
The honesty of emotion, including fear and anger, e.g., at friends with mothers collecting them from school, is raw and real.
I love the elongated characters, emotional colour use, passing of seasons as illustrated by daffodils, careful use of black outline, the thoughtful comparison of interior and exterior, the emergence of sky, with white, white framing and highlights.
However, most of all I love this picture book’s conception and storytelling. As a teacher, I sought titles offering an honest, caring approach to the subject of death. How do we explain? How do we comfort and support? How do we know? Jayde Perkin’s own experience pulsates through every page. ‘Mum’s Jumper’ is a scrutinised, purposeful and beautiful story, laden with gentle pathos and truths. ‘Mum’s Jumper’ is a necessary title for schools, and one to share, at the right moments, at home.