Lyle Finds His Mother

Book review by
Kevin McCaffrey, Common Sense Media
Lyle Finds His Mother Book Poster Image
The story is immediately absorbing and compelling.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Valenti uses tricks to manipulate Lyle.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the pictures are more detailed and colorful, done in thinner lines than in previous books, but they are losing the childlike simplicity that was a hallmark of the series.

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What's the story?

Hector Valenti, star of stage and screen, comes back into Lyle's life. Valenti, devoid of a partner to work with, has been starving. Seeing Lyle and the Primms in the park, he holds back from revealing himself because he is so ragged-looking. Instead he concocts a scheme to pretend to help Lyle find his mother in order to get him back in the act.

The Primms are suspicious, but Lyle wants to find his mother. He imagines what she could be like (in his dreams, she's a lot like Mrs. Primm) and soon can think of nothing else.

The Primms try to distract him with many activities, but in the end he must go. He and Valenti raise enough money to live well again, but Lyle finally makes Valenti initiate the search. In the end, Lyle finds his mother and happily brings her back to the Primms's house to live.

Is it any good?

This book was written five years after the previous book, and Waber's artistic style has evolved. His line is more refined, filled with more detail and a diversity of color washes, but it has lost that simplicity that, in the first few books, inspired children to try their own drawings.

To watch the ever-optimistic Lyle stay focused on his mission, and not let money or fame get in the way, is to know why Lyle remains at the forefront of favorite characters in kids' books. The author doesn't hedge when it comes to integrity, friendship, and family values. The story is immediately absorbing and compelling. Humor and warmth radiate from the pages without sentimentality, a tricky business. This book about finding a mother should sit in the pantheon of well-loved stories on this topic.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about adoption and the definition of family. If you were (or are) adopted, would you want to meet your biological parents? If not, why not? If so, what would you ask them or want them to know?

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