Big Mama Makes the World by Phyllis Root

Big Mama Makes the World

Written by Phyllis Root
Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

RRP £5.99

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Big Mama Makes the World by Phyllis Root

A joyous, lyrical, rousing creation story like no other you've ever read. When Big Mama made the world, she didn't mess about. Earth sky and sea, sun and moon, plants and trees, fish, birds and animals all fell right in line with Big Mama's plans. What Big Mama wants, Big Mama gets. That's how it is. It wasn't easy, either, with that little baby to take care of. But nothing stops Big Mama. Not for a second. Through it all - from darkness to light, from far up in the clouds to the bottom of the ocean, from a ball of mud to a big bang - shines Big Mama, larger-than-life and down-to-earth, with her baby sitting on her hip and the laundry piling up. All who read this original and utterly joyful book will agree that Phyllis Root and Helen Oxenbury have given us a creation myth like no other in the world. As Big Mama would say, Good. That's very, very good.


This is a highly original take on the creation story. Big Mama, who is the image of working women everywhere, juggles looking after her adorable baby with the serious demands of creating the world. She's a no-nonsense sort of Mama who means business and gets results, whether it be creating night and day or moulding people out of leftover mud. In her own unique way Big Mama floats through the story creating the world, all the while with the needs of her baby uppermost in her mind. She creates the sun and moon because otherwise how would she know 'when it's morning or evening, or time to put the baby down for a nap?'. In the end Big Mama gets a bit fed up with the whole business of creation, 'what with the laundry piling up and plates needing washing', so she finishes the job with a big bang! A book that works on several different levels, it's lucidly written with an element of repetition that should make it accessible to pre-school children. Equally, however, there is plenty of food for thought for older children which should lead to discussion on the creation versus big bang theories as well as the nature of God. With gorgeous illustrations by award-winning illustrator Helen Oxenbury it cannot fail to stimulate children's imaginations. Ages 3-7 (Kirkus UK)

About the Author

Phyllis Root

As a child
Phyllis picked up an early affinity for colloquial language whilst growing up in Indiana and southern Illinois, “where people actually say things like, ‘I got a hitch in my git-along’!” She decided to be a writer in the fifth grade, but it wasn’t until she was thirty that she took a writing course with an influential teacher who gave her “the tools” she says she needed. “That’s when I figured out that you could learn to be a writer,” she says.

As an adult
When she’s not writing, Phyllis teaches at Vermont College’s MFA in Writing for Children programme. She lives with her two daughters and two cats in a 100-year-old house in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and loves to read (mostly mysteries with female protagonists) or spend time outdoors gardening, camping, sailing or travelling. “One of the things I’ve learned about myself,” she confides, “is that when I get really stuck and can’t seem to get writing, it’s because I’ve forgotten to take time out to play.”

As an artist
“Picture books are performances,” says Phyllis, quoting some sage advice she once received. “They’re performances that involve a child – something both of you do. And once I started thinking of them that way, I started getting much looser about making up words and playing around with rhythm.” The author does “endless rewriting” before a book is finished, but often starts out by writing her stories in her head, a trick she learned as a time-pressed mother when her two daughters were very young. For example, Rattletrap Car – a joyful celebration of perseverance – began with her playing around with sounds (“clinkety clankety, bing bang pop!”) and calling up bits of old camp songs. A master of rhythmic read-alouds, Phyllis exhibits a range many writers would envy. Her counting book Ten Sleepy Sheep is as serene and lulling as One Duck Stuck is rambunctious. “Counting sheep isn’t always easy,” she notes. “Once, while we were farm-sitting, my daughter and I had to chase down two runaway lambs in the growing darkness, then count twenty-seven frisky lambs to make sure they were all safe for the night. Luckily, they were.”

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Book Info


48 pages


Phyllis Root
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Author's Website



Walker Books Ltd

Publication date

4th November 2002



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