Around the World in a Bathtub by Wade Bradford, illustrated by Micha Archer (9781580895446, Amazon)
This nonfiction picture book looks at various ways of bathing from around the world. Americans will be familiar with the first way, a bathtub with rubber duckies and a little one refusing to bathe. The book then moves to Japan with washing before entering the square tub to soak. People bathe from oldest to youngest. Turkey is next with bathhouses and scrubbing by attendants then a sauna with mud masks. Indians take baths in the river. Yup’ik families in Alaska sweat in a wooden cabin surrounded by snow. There are many ways and places to bathe around the world, but one thing holds constant across them all: children want to avoid baths!
Bradford uses information on bathing habits with touches of humor to lighten the book. Touches of each language are shown on the page from the names of the baths to the parents saying “yes” and the child saying “no”. The illustrations by Archer are oils and collage that create bright colorful scenes of the various places around the world. In all of them, there is an inviting feel and children escaping too. The images use the same humorous moments to enliven the book.
A bright and interesting look at baths, this is one worth submerging yourself into. Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.
Little Bird Takes a Bath by Marisabina Russo
Little Bird hates the rain and it was raining on his nest high above the city. The next morning though, the rain was gone and it was a lovely day. It was the perfect day for a bath! But the trouble was finding the right puddle. Some puddles were too big, some too small, and others were too crowded with other bathers. Then Little Bird found just the right puddle on a path in the park. But over and over again he got interrupted during his bathing. There was a bouncing ball, a little girl in flip flops, and a dog. By the time they had all gone through his puddle, it was far too small to bathe in. Little Bird flew up above the city, then spotted a fountain that looked like it was just the right size for a little bird.
Russo’s picture book is gentle and echoes traditional stories. She incorporates repetition and the mirroring of Goldilocks finding things that were “just right” adds much to the story. As the different things interrupt Little Bird’s bath, they are shown by the noise they make and then the reader turns the page to see what is making that noise. This little touch makes the book more dynamic and interactive for young listeners.
Russo’s art is just as inviting as the story she weaves. She makes sure that readers know that this is a city bird both in the text and the illustrations. Her images move from close ups of Little Bird to most distant images of the cityscape and how Little Bird flies across it. This change of scale makes the book interesting and children will enjoy seeing the path of Little Bird as he locates puddles and fountains in the city.
A great pick for rainy read alouds, this book will be welcome at toddler and preschool story times. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Schwartz & Wade.
Small Elephant’s Bathtime by Tatyana Feeney
While Small Elephant is happy to play in water or drink it, he doesn’t like taking a bath at all. His mother tries all sorts of thing to entice him into the bathtub. She fills it with plenty of toys. She blows bubbles in the air. But nothing works. Small Elephant tries to be too busy to take a bath and gets very mad when his mother insists on a bath. He has a tantrum and then hides from the bath. Then his father gets involved and makes Small Elephant giggle enough to try out the bath after all. But who will be able to get him out when he discovers how much fun he is having?
The author of Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket and other picture books has a winner with this title. Just the right playful tone is set here for toddlers who are also reluctant to stop what they are doing to take baths. The gentle approach of both parents is great to see, offering options towards tantrums and reluctance that are inventive and filled with humor.
As always Feeney’s art has a refreshing looseness about it. Line drawings with splashes of watercolor color, the book has an aesthetic that will appeal to children and adults alike. It uses limited colors to great effect, creating a cohesive and playful feel.
Soapy, sudsy, bubbly fun for small children who will relate to the emotions Small Elephant feels. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss and Knopf Books for Young Readers.
Catch That Baby! by Nancy Coffelt, illustrated by Scott Nash
Starting from the title pages, Rudy’s mom has to catch him to get him into the bath. But once the bath is over, the real chase begins as “Nudie Rudy” runs through the house. Mom tries to catch him, but he runs into the living room. His Mom and brother run after him, but he’s into the kitchen. Now the dog, his father, and his sister join the chase. But Rudy is off into the back of the house, filled with plants. Now grandma and grandpa help look, because Rudy has disappeared. What in the world could he be up to now?
Coffelt’s text ties this wild naked baby chase closely with The Gingerbread Man as more and more characters join in trying to catch Rudy. The story telling is split between narrative and dialogue, shown in speech bubbles. This keeps the pace of the story racing along with Rudy from page to page.
Nash’s art has bright colors and a comic book feel to its lines. He uses objects and the dog to cleverly block any frontal nudity from view, instead showing chubby legs, flying feet, and a bare bottom.
There is a real humor to the book, so much so that you can almost hear the giggle of this naked little racing boy. The twist at the end is endearing and a natural part of the story. A great pick for toddlers, this book is appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Aladdin.
Pirates Don’t Take Baths by John Segal
Some piglets hate, hate, hate taking a bath. In fact, this little pig NEVER wants to take a bath again. So he decides to become someone who never takes a bath. Like a pirate! But his mother points out that he gets seasick. So the little pig decides to be a cowboy until his mother reminds him that cowboys sleep on hard, cold ground. How about an Eskimo, well they eat things like blubber and liver. The piglet goes from one idea to the next, his mother giving reasons why it isn’t a good option. Until finally, he decides to become a treasure hunter who searches for treasure – under water!
Segal has created a book that nicely mixes avoiding baths and different types of jobs. He infuses the entire book with humor that keeps it moving quickly forward. The relationship between the young pig and his mother is also a pleasure to read. Book design helps in reading the book aloud by having the mother’s comments in italics.
Segal’s art, done in pencil and watercolor, plays white space against fully colored pages to great effect. Reality of the mother and child is done against a white background while his fantasies of different jobs are done in full color backgrounds. The illustrations have strong edges and the watercolor gives a softness that is very appealing.
A fun look at avoiding baths through imagination, this book is appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Philomel Books.
The Treasure Bath by Dan Andreasen
This jolly wordless picture book has a toddler who is busily helping his mother bake a cake. All messy after the cake goes in the oven, he is put in the bath. His facial expression makes it clear that he is not happy to be headed there. But once he is in the bath with his boat, his imagination goes to work and he is surrounded by colorful fish who join him in swimming down deep into the sea to find a treasure map. They follow the map to the treasure chest which is filled with soap and shampoo. From there he is grabbed by an eel and scrubbed by an octopus as a whale rinses him off with his spout. The little boy complains to the fish about how he was treated, then he returns to reality in the bath with his hair neatly combed and his mother waiting to get him out. And what is waiting when he gets out of the bath? Cake!
The joyful and jolly spirit of this book is what captured me immediately. Yes, the little boy is grumpy when being put into the bath, but then the magic begins. The scenes underwater are just as crisp and clear as those in reality. The lines between the two are seamless, letting the book really feel like a vivid daydream. Andreasen’s art is done in oil on bristol board and has a nice depth, great colors, and a perfect dappled effect in the underwater scenes.
A sudsy, jolly book that is perfect for toddlers who may not enjoy baths and for those who do too. Appropriate for ages 2-5.
Reviewed from book received from publisher.