Review: Nine Months by Miranda Paul

Nine Months Before a Baby Is Born by Miranda Paul

Nine Months: Before a Baby Is Born by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin (9780823441617)

A mother, father and their daughter come home from a wintry walk with their dog. They curl up together in bed to read a book about having a new baby. On the opposite page, the growth of the baby begins, starting with one cell that divides getting bigger with each turn of the page. Their busy days take them to the doctor for an ultrasound, assembling the crib, and lots of quality time just spent with one another. As the seasons change, so does the size of the mother’s tummy. Growing to match, the images of the baby in the womb get larger and become actual size. Crowded onto the page, the baby finally arrives and enters the light and wonder of their new family.

I haven’t seen another picture book like this, where the illustrations have a friendly story that can be shared, but also show the details of what is happening inside a mother’s womb as the baby develops. The text has a lovely rhythm and rhyme that is hopeful and filled with joy. The final pages add to the information with more details on babies, answers to questions about them, about how animals and humans are different in gestation, and also questions about what if something else happens.

The illustration by Chin are simply lovely. He fills both of the pages on each spread with light, so readers can really take a close look at the developing fetus. The other side offers slanting sun as the days pass by in expectation of the new little one. Throughout the illustrations, there is a sense of wonder and anticipation that will be shared by children soon to be new siblings.

A great book for children who are expecting a new baby in their family, this book is a lovely mix of science and love. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy provided by Neal Porter Books.

Review: Baby Day by Jane Godwin and Davina Bell

Baby Day by Jane Godwin and Davina Bell

Baby Day by Jane Godwin and Davina Bell, illustrated by Freya Blackwood (9781481470346)

Today is baby’s birthday! So it’s time to have a party and a bunch of other babies are invited to the fun. The party is outside and as the babies arrive, so does a friendly dog that belongs to one of the families. There are cautious babies, friendly ones. Babies who worry for others and babies who are brave enough to use the big slide. There are fussy babies, crying babies, and eventually tired babies. Along with the babies, there are ice cream cones and plenty of cake before it’s time to head home.

Godwin and Bell show exactly what happens when you get a group of toddlers together. Often they merrily play alongside one another, other times they get upset. The book focuses solely on the party, follows the progression of emotions through, and ends merrily as people head home. It is simply written and a simple story that will work well for sharing with little ones heading to their first birthday party without setting huge expectations. Blackwood’s illustrations really lift this book to a new level. Her gentle and clever depictions of this group of children is done with attention to detail. One can follow each child through the party and their individual story makes sense.

A winning first birthday book just right for the smallest of children. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy provided by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Review: B Is for Baby by Atinuke

B Is for Baby by Atinuke

B Is for Baby by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank (9781536201666)

Told in a series of “B” words, this book tells the story of a baby who climbs into a basket of bananas. Unnoticed by her busy brother who has headphones on, the basket is loaded onto the back of his bicycle and he heads off across the African landscape. They pass baobab trees, see a baboon, bird and butterfly. The road is bumpy and carries them across a bridge until they reach Baba’s bungalow where Baby is discovered amid the bananas much to her brother’s surprise. The three enjoy a snack together and then the two children journey back together to their mother.

Once again, Atinuke shows the beauty of Africa through a small child’s eyes. With only the simplest of words, she delights in the naughtiness of the baby climbing into the basket and then gives a merry journey for her to experience. Ending with a cookie, what could be sweeter! The illustrations are bright and large, perfect for sharing aloud with a group of toddlers. Filled with animals, people and sweeping landscapes, the illustrations capture the beauty of Africa and its people.

Another big beautiful book by Atinuke, this one is just right for the littlest ones. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copy provided by Candlewick Press.

 

Review: Love You Head to Toe by Ashley Barron

Love You Head to Toe by Ashley Barron

Love You Head to Toe by Ashley Barron (9781771473040)

On each page of this book, human babies are compared with animal babies in their activities throughout the day. Baby wakes up like a sea star in the sun. They play like a kitten batting at a butterfly. Baby toddles like a bear cub. They bundle up like a penguin. They eat like a chipmunk, filling their cheeks with food. The book contains many similes and metaphors and even the smallest child will enjoy looking at the animals and the ways that they are just the same.

The text is simple and straight-forward, showing the direct comparisons between baby and animal in a charming way. Activities like crawling, diaper changes, hopping, and toddling make this book accessible to all children. The illustrations show a diverse group of babies, ranging in age from around six months to one year. Done in collage, they are simple enough for little ones and delightful as well.

A winning book for infants and toddlers. Here’s hoping it comes out as a board book soon. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Owlkids.

 

Review: First Laugh – Welcome Baby by Rose Ann Tahe

First Laugh - Welcome, Baby! By Rose Ann Tahe

First Laugh – Welcome, Baby! By Rose Ann Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson (9781580897945)

In Navajo tradition, the person who gets a baby to laugh first gets to host the First Laugh Ceremony. So an extended family spends time with their baby attempting to get him to laugh out loud. In a variety of settings from a city home to where he is too hungry to laugh and then too busy eating to giggle. He spends time on the Navajo Nation with his grandparents, time on horseback. Music is played, water splashed, tummies tickled and still no laugh. Until his grandfather lifts him high, his grandmother whispers a prayer. So the ceremony is held on the Navajo Nation and filled with family and more laughter.

There is such love on each page of this book, filled with people spending time with a baby. There are quiet times of weaving and before getting up. There are active times of play. It all comes together into a rich family experience that leads directly to a Navajo tradition. The end of the book offers more information on the settings of the book, the ceremony and ceremonies from other cultures for babies. The illustrations focus on the family as well, depicting the different settings of the book warmly. Just as with the text, there is love on each page.

A warm look at the Navajo First Laugh Ceremony and a great depiction of a modern Native American family. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from copy provided by Charlesbridge.

3 Boisterous Noisy Picture Books

Bumpety, Dunkety, Thumpety-Thump! By K. L. Going

Bumpety, Dunkety, Thumpety-Thump! By K. L. Going, illustrated by Simone Shin (9781442434141)

Two young siblings, a brother and sister, head outside with their wagon. They play with pebbles near the pond, pick blueberries and then head home. Each thing makes it’s own noise: the wagon bumpety-bumps, the pebbles dunkety-dunk, and the plunkety-plunk. Back home, they bake the berries in a pie, eat, wash dishes, and then take a bath. These activities too are supported by a rollicking and noise-filled rhyme that carries the story forward with a jaunty vibe. The book ends with bedtime and everyone sharing stories and heartbeats together. This book beautifully combines noises of a day with a loving family story and creates a book that is a dynamic read-aloud for toddlers. Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.)

Buster and the Baby by Amy Hest

Buster and the Baby by Amy Hest, illustrated by Polly Dunbar (9780763687878)

Buster, a little white dog, is hiding from the baby who is chasing him around the house. Buster tries different spots to hide, but each time, the baby comes and finds him. THUMP, THUMP, THUMP comes the baby, the same noise that Buster’s heart makes as he hides. Then the two dash off together in a wild chase until Buster finds his next hiding place and it begins again. This book begs to be shared aloud, as Hest has created moments of quiet tension and then uproarious frenzy that repeat again and again. The illustrations by Dunbar add to the joy, incorporating panels that let young listeners see the action across pages. A great pick for reading aloud to toddlers. Appropriate for ages 1-3. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Grump Groan Growl by bell hooks

Grump Groan Growl by bell hooks, illustrated by Chris Raschka (9780786808168)

Explore a bad mood in this picture book that takes a look at being very very grumpy. The child in the opening images prowls like a lion, sharp claws at the ready as he grumps across the page. He groans and growls loudly, almost a roar. There is nowhere to escape his foul mood. He feels wild and out of control until he realizes that he can look inside, let that feeling be and let it pass. Hooks speaks to the process of mindfulness about emotions with few words, showing the emotion clearly and then moving into the process to allow that emotion to pass on. Raschka’s illustrations are dark with emotion, tinged with colors that become more tangible as the child regains control. A great pick for mindfulness with children, this book doesn’t reject negative emotions or cling to them either. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from library copy.)

 

 

3 Picture Books about Families

Bruces Big Move by Ryan Higgins

Bruce’s Big Move by Ryan T. Higgins (9781368003544)

Bruce the bear continues to be mother to his four goose children. But now three mice have also joined them in Bruce’s den and it’s getting very crowded, particularly for the grumpy bear. It was messy and loud. Bruce tried to get rid of the mice, but nothing worked. So he decided to move away with the geese instead, leaving the mice behind. Bruce built a house, just the right size along the water. Bruce was very happy there, but the geese were all sad. Soon though, the mice had a solution, one that Bruce wasn’t happy with but one that felt like home. Higgins once again takes a very grumpy bear and forces him to reluctantly appreciate the chaos around him. Higgins uses a big dollop of humor throughout the book, both in the text and the illustrations. Bruce trying to cheer up the geese is a wonderful twist on the book series and seeing Bruce smile is rather creepy in a good way. A moving book that is a nice twist on other picture book moving stories, this is another winning read-aloud featuring Bruce. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Review copy supplied by Disney-Hyperion Books.)

The Call of the Swamp by Davide Cali.jpg

The Call of the Swamp by Davide Cali, illustrated by Marco Soma (9780802854865)

Boris was found as a newborn at the edge of the swamp by his parents. Boris had quite happy days growing up, though he was different than the people around him. His eyes were larger and he had tentacles rather than hair. Then one day, the wind blew the smell of salt air and Boris could smell the swamp. He eventually walked all the way back to the swamp and found himself in the water with animals that were a lot like him. It was his real family. But where did Boris truly belong? This picture book explores adoption through a human family adopting a water creature. It also explores what makes a place a home. The tone here is open and curious, exploring both the wonders of the swamp and the longing to return to the human house and his parents. The art is lovely and filled with details. The illustrations are filled with subtle colors that pay homage to the swamp throughout. A lovely book of nature and home. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Review copy provided by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.)

His Royal Highness, King Baby by Sally Lloyd-Jones

His Royal Highness, King Baby by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by David Roberts (9780763697938)

Told from the point of view of a little girl who is about to get a new baby brother, this picture book offers a great example of an unreliable narrator for small children. The little girl was in charge at first in a land where there was plenty of time for stories with both of her parents. Then the new baby arrived, King Baby, and everything turned into screaming, poop and attention for the baby. The princess had to share the bathroom, carry groceries, and soon became invisible to everyone. Then she came up with a new plan and turned into a Mysterious Fairy with a cunning plan that would break the spell of King Baby. But it didn’t quite turn out the way she planned.

I love the way that the text stays true to the little girl’s perspective entirely. But the illustrations show an entirely different thing.The narrator has a vivid imagination that she uses to turn a new sibling into a fairy tale. Still, her parents are around and attentive to both children and often looking on with knowing glances at their older child. Wise and funny, this picture book will give children a voice and parents a nod. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from library copy.)

 

Littles and How They Grow by Kelly DiPucchio

Littles and How They Grow by Kelly DiPucchio

Littles and How They Grow by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by AG Ford (9780399555268, Amazon)

This picture book celebrates the first year of a little one’s life. Told in rhyme, the book doesn’t start with the birth but instead has babies wriggling on their tummies, swaddled and warm, and being cuddled close. Baths, food and tantrums appear on the page, filled with bubbles, messes and tears. Reading books and taking walks are also part of the fun as the book then shows how quickly the littles grow big.

This simple picture book is great for new siblings to see the fun that is to come once their new babies get bigger. The book is full of the busyness of having a baby and the joy that comes with it too. DiPucchio’s rhymes are confidence and easy, never feeling forced. The rhythm is lovely as well, rollicking and joyous.

Ford’s illustrations are bright and celebratory. He shows little ones of all races and cultures with mothers and fathers all involved. There is a lovely playfulness to the illustrations that works well with the subject matter.

A bright and warm look at new babies, this one is a great gift for expectant parents or the older sibling. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House.

Up! by Susan Hughes

Up! by Susan Hughes

Up!: How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Ashley Barron (9781771471763, Amazon)

All around the world, families use different ways of carrying their children. This book travels the globe, showing widely diverse families and how they hold their babies close. There are babies being carried in arms, others in shawls, still others in parka hoods. Baby carriers can be used in different ways, whether you are father or brother and if you are differently abled. Baskets and shoulder rides are also shown. Up we go!

Hughes has chosen a wide range of baby carriers in her prose. She keeps it deliberately simple, making it a book that can be happily shared with little ones. The small format of the book also helps make it approachable. Only a little prose is given on each page, the brisk pace and changing scenes keeping the book very lively. It has a lovely bounce to the text, a sway like holding a baby on your hip or bouncing them merrily along.

Barron’s illustrations embrace the diversity and add to it. She has people of a wide range of races and religions on the page. The images are done in cut-paper collage and have a simplicity but also fully depict that part of the world. The crisp lines and bright colors add to the appeal for little ones.

A grand picture book that I hope gets made into a board book as well, this is a jolly journey through babies and how they are carried. Appropriate for ages 1-4.

Reviewed from library copy.