Home in the Rain by Bob Graham (9780763692698, Amazon)
Francie and her mother are headed home from Grandma’s house. It rains and rains. It rains enough that a big truck washes their car into a picnic area. Nearby, the rain hits rabbits, mice and a hawk. It rains on fishermen and ducks. Francie and her mother wait in the car, the windows steaming up. Francie writes their names on the windows. She asks her mother what her new baby sister’s name will be when she arrives, but her mother doesn’t know yet. They eat a picnic in the car together and then they pull back onto the road and continue home. When they stop to get gas, Francie’s mother decides on her little sister’s name and the sun returns to light their way home.
Graham has written a lovely picture book that is more complicated than it seems. It is the story of a little red car heading home. It’s the story of a family about to get one person bigger. It is the story of names and inspiration. It’s the story of rain and water and weather. Graham ties all of these elements together into one precious rain-soaked bundle that really works. It is bursting with the love of family on every page.
Graham’s illustrations are done in his signature style. The characters are people of color and their car becomes a haven and a busy room filled with small details. The book then pulls away to the countryside and their small car seen from above. The rain sweeps the pages and the animals appear. The play of close comfort in the car with wide scenery captures the wildness of the storm and strengthens the intimacy of the family.
A special book that looks at those delicate moments before the birth of a new baby, this picture book celebrates family and storms. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
The Bossier Baby by Marla Frazee (InfoSoup)
Caldecott Honor winner, Frazee has returned with a sequel to Boss Baby. Unfortunately for Boss Baby, things in his corporation have started to change. His staff isn’t treating him the same way and suddenly there is a new CEO! She first restructures the organization, and then does the seemingly impossible: she’s even bossier than her big brother. She manages to get better perks than he ever got too. Boss Baby has had enough and starts to display outrageous behavior and then he just gave up. But luckily, his new CEO knows exactly how to handle a crisis like this.
All of the wonderful mix of babyhood and the corporate mix of the first book returns in the second. It’s a winning combination where corporate take over feels exactly the same as a new baby in the house. While the first book had a lot of parental perspective, this second one is all about the older siblings and his feelings of displacement. Told with plenty of humor, the book is hilarious and oh so true.
Frazee’s illustrations are exceptional, of course. They have a wonderful mix of page designs from montages of images to full double-page spreads. Each has a specific perspective that heightens the emotional feel of the story as well. Just look at the long shadow thrown by the new CEO, or the disruptive behavior which is sure to get children giggling.
A delight of a sequel, this book is ideal for children who have been the Big Boss in their family but are now dealing with their own takeover. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Beach Lane Books.
Eat, Sleep, Poop by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Jane Massey (InfoSoup)
This funny picture book about the life of a baby is just right for toddlers and slightly older siblings of new babies. The life of a baby is not easy at all. There’s a lot to fit into the day: eating, sleeping and pooping. If a day gets too hectic though, baby can always cut back on sleep to compensate, much to the chagrin of his parents. Then the routine can go back to normal, filled with eating, sleeping, pooping and plenty of love.
Penfold uses plenty of puns and word play in this picture book that will invite laughter and nods from families dealing with a new baby. The text here is very simple, just enough to keep the humor of the situation at the forefront and allow new siblings to understand that this is what all babies do, all day long. There is a strong focus too on love and support and by the end of the book, the tiny baby has grown into a toddler themselves though their routine hasn’t changed much yet.
Massey’s illustrations underscore the importance of a loving family as the backdrop to the infant’s story. She also includes a dog in the family, one who is displaced by the baby and has to learn to cope with the new focus on the baby. The illustrations are bright and friendly with a doting extended family who all participate in baby care.
A warm and funny look at new infants, this book will be welcomed by families who have their own eating, sleeping, pooping machine. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.
Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke and Lauren Tobia
I’ve been a big fan of Anna Hibiscus since the first titles were released. Those books were chapter books and it’s great to see the transition to picture books about Anna continue. In this book, Anna wakes up one morning to discover that her mother has given birth to two baby brothers. Her cousins inform her that baby boys are trouble and Anna Hibiscus quickly sees that that is true. When she wants to snuggle with her mother, she is sleeping. Her grandmother too is sleeping after being up all night helping with the birth. Her uncle is too busy making food for her mother to get Anna her regular breakfast. Her aunts are busy rocking the babies. Finally, it is too much for Anna Hibiscus to take and she starts to yell and cry. After all that fuss though, Anna Hibiscus quickly realizes that while things may take longer now, her family is still right there beside her.
The story deals directly with the mixed emotions that come from having new siblings, from the surprise of their arrival to the lack of attention for the older sibling. These classic emotions are shown clearly here, despite Anna Hibiscus having such a large family around her. Readers will notice that she has lots of support, though she is not noticing it at all. The emotions build quickly and steadily to a breaking point and the resolution of Anna Hibiscus’ outburst is filled with understanding and kindness.
The art work is lovely, clear and clean. The beauty of African life is shown on the page as is the loveliness of the mixed races of Anna Hibiscus’ family. As always, the warmth of the lifestyle that Anna Hibiscus grows up in is radiantly shown in the images.
Another winning Anna Hibiscus book, perfect for new older siblings who may have double or single troubles of their own. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Kane Miller.
Ninja Baby by David Zeltser, illustrated by Diane Goode
Released November 3, 2015
Right when she was born, Nina was a ninja baby. The doctor slapped her bottom to make sure she was breathing and Nina knocked him over with a ninja kick. Nina was immediately independent, working on her ninja skills even when taking a bath or having her diaper changed. But then everything changes when her parents bring home a new baby, a Kung Fu Master. He approaches everything differently, steadily taking over her parents’ attention and time, pulling them all under his power, and doing it all with a cute gurgle. There’s a lot a ninja can learn from a kung fu master and a lot a kung fu master can learn about stealth and attacks. Soon the children are working together to build their skills, so their parents had better watch out!
Zeltser embraces his ninja-themed picture book and doesn’t slow down. The ninja theme carries through the entire book, with baby Nina escaping her crib and doing sneak attacks. The humor of the book is dynamic and clever, offering a bright mix of ninja references and normal childhood experiences. But make no mistake, Nina is a true ninja, just as her little brother is a true kung fu master. It is this additional element that makes the book really work. Nina is stealthy and fast while her little brother takes on a completely different type of martial arts energy. The combination is pure delight, especially as they begin to learn from one another.
The illustrations by Goode are wry and cheery. They have a loose line about them that makes them very friendly. The images tell the complete story, making sure that readers know that Nina really is a little ninja and that she is truly gifted at stealth. The blissful new brother is also wonderfully depicted as a contrast to Nina.
A unique take on a new sibling book, this one will sneak up and steal your heart. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books
The New Small Person by Lauren Child
The creator of Charlie and Lola returns with a new picture book sibling pair. Elmore Green has always been an only child. He has his own room, no one moves his toys around, and no one eats his jelly beans. But suddenly a new baby enters the picture and soon Elmore finds himself sharing a room, unable to leave any of his toys unattended, and no one pays him attention. Perhaps worst of all, his jelly bean collection is licked by his little brother! Just as all seems to be falling apart, Elmore discovers that there are some parts of having a new sibling that aren’t so bad after all like laughing at TV shows together, sharing toys, and even sharing jelly beans (maybe).
Child has a wonderful way of understanding what children are thinking. While other new sibling books have more focus on the loss of parental attention, Child shows exactly how a small sibling can bother an older one. She merrily skips quickly past the baby stage and directly to toddlerhood where the most disruption can take place. Young readers will enjoy a book that has plenty of humor but also is realistic too.
Child’s art is done in her signature style. Her collage work incorporates pieces of cloth and patterned paper. I appreciate that her new family are people of color and also that it is not a focus of the book but just a visual component, natural and not remarked upon.
Perfect for Charlie & Lola fans and also for older siblings experiencing their own toddlers at home. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora
When the bunny family came home, they found a little bundle on their doorstep. It was a baby wolf! Mama and Papa were thrilled to take him in, but Dot knew that the wolf was going to eat them all. Still, the bunny family took Wolfie in. Dot kept an eye on him all night long, and tried again at breakfast to warn her family that they were going to be eaten. No one listened, again. Finally, Dot’s friends agreed that Dot was right and they went to play somewhere else. When she got back, Wolfie would not leave Dot alone. Days went by and Wolfie started to grow and grow. He also started to eat and eat, so Dot was sent to the store along with Wolfie. It was there that Wolfie finally showed his fangs, but it doesn’t turn out in the way that Dot was expecting!
Dyckman has created a very clever little book that shows adoption and new siblings in a fresh way. Dot is convinced from the very beginning that taking in Wolfie is a bad idea and that it will be catastrophic for her family. This feeling of doom is very much what human children feel when a new baby is announced. Wolfie goes through all of the steps of a new sibling, from getting all of the attention to being a pest. Yet through the entire book, Dyckman keeps the focus on wolves and bunnies and how it will all play out, creating a welcome added dynamic to the story.
OHora’s illustrations add to the humor on the page. Done in acrylic, the illustrations have a signature flat feeling to them that is very modern. They capture the cheerful bunny family, the worried Dot, and the adorable Wolfie. OHora also creates a dynamic neighborhood for the story to take place in that makes the entire book feel grounded and real. Or as real as a book about wolves and bunnies can be.
Clever, funny and bright, this picture book captures have a new sibling in a fresh way. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Maple by Lori Nichols
This is one amazing debut picture book. Maple loved her name. When she was a baby, her parents had planted a maple tree in their yard. It was tiny just like her and as Maple grew so did the maple tree. Her tree never minded if she was loud even though her parents did sometimes. Maple loved to be outside with her tree. She would sway along with it, pretend to be a tree and spend time gazing up into its branches and leaves. When the tree lost its leaves in the fall, Maple gave it her coat to keep it warm. Throughout the winter, the two played together. Then in the spring, there were new surprises! A new tree in the ground and a new baby in the family. It is Maple who figures out exactly what to do to keep her new sister happy.
Clever and very satisfying, this book is an exceptional debut. Nichols sets just the right tone with her prose. From the very first page, you know that she understands children’s books and the way to structure and write them. The story is clearly presented and the arc of the tale is nicely plotted and designed. One knows that it is building towards something, but the book is willing to take the right amount of time to get there. The book reads like a veteran author wrote it.
The illustrations are also impressive. They have a lovely softness to them that is very pleasing. The colors are muted but very effective. My favorite pages are when Maple looks up into the tree and you see her through the leaves. It is all beautifully done.
Take it from someone who named one of her children after a tree and then planted one for him to grow up with, this book captures children, love for nature and new siblings with grace and style. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Nancy Paulsen Books.