School Library Journal: August 2008.Nonie, a young African-American girl, sits at the breakfast table with her parents and a wailing baby, sulking: "Not gonna eat my mush. /Not gonna eat it! I say./Squishy, yucky, yellow stuff/mush is baby food." She puts on her shiny black shoes, and, with her chin poked out, stomps off to live with Grandma (next door), where there's "no mushy mush or bawling babies", and where "Grandma attends when I'm talkin''". Nonie feels better as she and Grandma go to church, but when Daddy passes the collection plate, he faces a still-frowning daughter. Later, at the church picnic, her mood lightens and she allows her dad to give her a paddleboat ride. Pointing out animals, he says, "Ducklings stick with their families/Lots to learn from ducks." By day's end, Nonie has decided to return home and is greeted by her baby brother's great big smile and Momma's warm welcome. The story is told in two to four short sentences per page. The spare text deftly conveys Nonie's reactions and emotions, which are clearly reflected in Tadgell's realistic, folksy watercolors sweeping across double pages. Ultimately, this gentle story addresses the universal frustration older siblings often face at having a new baby in the family.
Booklist: August 2008.Nonie refuses to eat her yucky mush porridge for breakfast ("mush is baby food"), and to get away from her bawling baby brother, she runs next door to Grandma's house, where she thinks she'd like to live because she gets the attention she craves ("Grandma attends when I'm talkin'"). Then, after she goes with Grandma to church, joins the ladies' picnic, and spends time with Daddy in a boat and on the swings, she returns home to her baby brother, now smiling and reaching for her at the gate. Maybe home isn't so bad after all. True to the young kid's viewpoint, this picture book tells the displaced-sibling story with wry affection. The warm, realistic watercolor double-page spreads show Nonie's anger, jealousy, and feeling of connections with her loving African American family and in the multiracial church community. Nonie's sulks are as much fun as the final quiet embrace, when she gives the baby the little yellow duckling toy she has been clutching throughout the day.
Rutgers: September 2008.
Nonie is fed up with her baby brother’s crying and with the cornmeal mush served at breakfast. She decides she wants to leave her family and live with Grandma next door, because at least Grandma pays attention to her and prepares better food. But later that day at the church picnic when Grandma just wants to sit, Nonie cannot resist her father’s offer of a paddleboat ride and a push on the swings. Nonie and her dad see a group of ducklings swimming with their parents, and Nonie reconsiders living at home with her family.
No Mush Today may appear to have a simple premise, but underneath the surface is an important lesson about the time demands of providing care for children. Caring for a new baby is particularly time consuming, and as the older sibling, Nonie feels she is bearing the cost when her parents are less attentive to her own wants and needs. Going to live with Grandma seems appealing, but Nonie soon realizes that there are tradeoffs when she misses her family. The rich illustrations add emotional depth to this engaging story.
Yana V. Rodgers, Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children
Kirkus Reviews: September 2008.
After her baby brother’s arrival, young Nonie must cope with the reality that she is no longer her parents’ only priority. She uses another morning of mush for breakfast as an excuse to move in with Grandma, who lives next door, and Grandma gives Nonie all the attention she craves. After services at church and a following picnic that gives her a chance to reconnect with her family—“ ‘Baby’s been missin’ me some?’ I ask. / Momma nods, attendin’ now”—Nonie decides to try living with her parents once more. Using watercolors, Tadgell creates a soft dreamlike world filled with details. Nonie’s small duck is on every page; like her family, it is always with her, and by the end of the story, she learns to share it with her sibling, just as she must learn to share her parents. The text uses dialect and some grammatically incorrect English, which does not add to the story, but is simple and straightforward. Overall, a delightful book.
M. LaVora Perry: October 2008.
Sally Derby's No Mush Today will have young children smiling and some
may nod in agreement while identifying with the spunky heroine who
feels unfairly put upon on two counts: by her breakfast menu and in
her new role as big sister. Nicole Tadgell's colorful and animated
illustrations instantly drew me in.