With a warm welcome at your grandmother’s home in Japan, this picture book firmly places children in the midst of an extended loving family filled with aunties and cousins. Change into your yukata and your wooden sandals and walk together to the bath house. Shed your clothes along with everyone else. Start with washing, washing your hair and back, do a naked dance with your cousins, until finally it is time. Everyone enters the big bath together with a sigh. Wrap in a soft towel afterwards and find a treat of shaved ice while you are waiting for the adults to finish. Walk home at night together again, holding your grandma’s hand.
Based on the author’s childhood visits to Japan in the summer, this book is so filled with warmth and love. The connection formed by bathing together, chatting, playing together and spending relaxing time together is so evident that it need not be stated outright. The writing keeps the focus on the importance of bath houses for families. It also gives stodgy Americans a chance to glimpse other ways of bathing, spending family time and respecting each other’s bodies.
The nakedness in the illustrations of this book will have some adults concerned while others will recognize it as a celebration of different body types as well as a look at Japanese culture in ways that is different from our American views. The pages are filled with sudsy, steamy, bubbly bodies, all naked and lovely.
A bubbly look into Japanese culture and the closeness of a family who may live far apart. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
This follow-up to Bedtime for Sweet Creatures returns to the same child and their family. This time the focus is bath time, which has the child hiding at first, until the magic of bath time becomes evident. There is the roar of the flowing tap which is like a waterfall. The tub is like a soft-scented sea that has monsters like the rubber duck floating in it! Bubbles and splashing are also part of the fun. Diving deep under water has the boats floating in the tub almost capsizing. Eventually, hair gets washed too and then the tub is drained and it’s towel time. The sea is left behind in the bathroom, until tomorrow.
Grimes takes another everyday event for small children and imbues it with real magic and imagination. Throughout this book, there is a definite playfulness from both parents that makes the entire bath time successful and fun. Grimes has written the book in the second person, so the book speaks directly to the child listening to the story. This lets the child remain non-gendered in the story, wonderfully inclusive writing.
Zunon’s illustrations are done in collage. She creates shining faces filled with love and emotion in this small family. There is joy in her depictions of the evolving imaginary world and also in the real world too. Using bright colors, action and flowing water filled with patterns, this book is vibrant.
Another winner from this collaborative pair. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
In this nearly wordless book, a little pig is getting ready for a nice calm bath all by himself. As he settles into the warm water, the door is opened by a sheep who brings a toy boat and climbs into the bath too. The next to enter is a cow, who asks the sheep if she can join and the sheep agrees. Cow brings a beach ball in, which bounces right off of the pig’s head. Then comes donkey who wears a floaty around his waist and hops into the bath too. The bath is noisy and crowded and not what pig wanted at all! What is a pig to do to find some peace?
The only words in this book are animal noises made by each of the critters. They use punctuation and emphasis to show what tone should be used when they are read aloud. It works very nicely. The book has a wonderful build up of frustration for the pig, as he gets more and more cross visually as the animals enter and the chaos increases. The humor of the solution is wonderfully timed and will have small children in stitches. Perhaps adding a little noise for that when sharing aloud would add to the fun.
A little fart of a book with lots of appeal. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
A simple five-step guide to giving your cat a bath becomes a romp of a picture book. Just filling the tub with the right amount of water is a challenge. First too much, then too little. Then the cat disappears. Maybe it’s time for a milk and cookie break? The girl returns to the bathroom with her cat, but now the water is cold. The cat escapes again. She chases after forgetting to turn off the water which creates a flood. Once the water is mopped up, it’s time to start again. Or perhaps there’s a simpler solution?
The flat voice of a guide book adds so much to the humor here. The timing is also exceptionally done with the design of the page turns adding a touch of suspense to the fun. The entire book is lighthearted and played for laughs. The art is done in simple lines which emphasizes the chaos that eventually occurs on the page. The messes accumulate, moving into new rooms.
A complete giggle-fest of a book particularly for families who love cats. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.