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Children's Fiction Homelessness & Poverty

Tough Like Mum

by (author) Lana Button

illustrated by Carmen Mok

Initial publish date
Apr 2021
Homelessness & Poverty, Parents, Emotions & Feelings
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2


What does it mean to be tough? Kim finds out in this moving mother-daughter story about family hardship, vulnerability and love, perfect for fans of Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors.

Kim's mum is tough. Everyone says so. She can deal with unruly customers at the Red Rooster with a snap of her fingers.

Kim is tough, too. She doesn't need to wear a hat to keep her ears warm. And she can make soup all by herself, even without the stove.

Kim and her mum are tough.

But Kim is learning that sometimes toughness doesn't look like what you'd expect.

In this tender exploration of a mother-daughter relationship, Kim and her mother learn that in order to support and truly take care of each other, they need to be tough -- and that sometimes being tough means showing vulnerability and asking for help.

About the authors

Lana Button is an early childhood educator and a children’s author, educator, and entertainer who is passionate about supporting and encouraging children through entertainment. Lana began writing following a career in television and theatre. Her books, including Willow Finds a Way, have been shortlisted for the Blue Spruce Award, The Shining Willow Award, the Jean Throop IODE Award, the Rainforest of Reading Award, and more. Her most recent book, The Cow Said Boo, was a Parents Approved book. Lana lives in Burlington, Ontario.

Lana Button's profile page

Carmen Mok is a studio-art graduate of the University of Waterloo, and a crafts and design graduate of Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada. Her books include Waiting for Sophie by Sarah Ellis, Look at Me Now by Carol McDougall and Shanda LaRamee-Jones, and Ride the Big Machines in Winter. She recently illustrated Grandmother’s Visit by Betty Quan, which was named an Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature Picture Book Honor Title, was on the shortlist of the IODE Ontario Jean Throop Book Award and was selected for the Ontario Library Association Best Bets List. Carmen lives in St. Catharines, Ontario.

Carmen Mok's profile page


  • Winner, SCBWI Crystal Kite Award

Editorial Reviews

One of CCBC’s Best Books for Kids and Teens, Fall 2021
A Canadian Children's Book Centre Favourite Book of the Year (2021)

“Powerful in its vulnerability.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Mok offers simple, carefully shaded gouache and colored-pencil art, underlining this sensitive portrayal of the bond between one mother and child navigating difficult circumstances and whether to welcome help.” —Publishers Weekly

"Powerful stuff." —Wall Street Journal

"This tender tale imparts that asking for help shows toughness, too." —New York Times

“Lana Button gently explores the pressures that kids feel when they have to take on the roles that the adults in their lives can’t.” —Globe and Mail

“Readers should come away from the story realizing that staying ‘tough’ is not the only answer.” —Horn Book

Other titles by Lana Button

Other titles by Carmen Mok

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