Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister? by Chitra Soundar

Cover image for Sona Sharma.

Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister? by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Jen Khatun (9781536214826)

Sona lives in a home with lots of family members and others who stop by regularly. There is her mother and father, Thatha, her grandfather, Paatti, her grandmother, and The President who lives in the neighborhood. There is also Elephant, her best friend, and a toy she has had since she was tiny. When Amma, Sona’s mother, tells her that she is expecting a new baby, Sona isn’t so sure that it’s good news. She will have to share her room and her things with the new baby. Sona wants badly to be the best big sister ever, but sometimes her emotions get in the way. She has a chance to help pick the perfect name for the new baby, but she may just wait too long in the end.

Perfectly pitched for young readers, this early chapter book is a glimpse of life in India with rickshaws to get to school, jasmine in the garden, and pooris for a snack. Sona’s reaction to a new baby is just right, an honest mixture of wanting to participate and also resenting what she may lose too. The extended family plays a large part in giving Sona both the attention and the space she needs to process her feelings without making her ashamed along the way.

The illustrations add to the depiction of life in India, capturing the connection of the family members, shared meals, and crowded streets. The images are full of warmth and love.

A look at the emotions of a new baby combined with a visit to India. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Candlewick.

I Love You, Baby Burrito by Angela Dominquez

Cover image

I Love You, Baby Burrito by Angela Dominquez (9781250231093)

A Latinx family welcomes a new baby in this picture book where Spanish and English mix in the text. The new parents welcome the baby home. They gaze at the perfect little face, touch fingers and toes. The baby is fed after getting a bit fussy, then burped too. It’s eventually time for a siesta, achieved with a clever burrito fold of the blanket that leaves that cute little face showing. The book ends with bedtime and being kissed goodnight.

Perfect for new older siblings who are still toddlers themselves, this book shows what to expect on a baby’s first day. There will be lots of gazing in bliss at the new little face, exploring fingers and toes, and sleeping. The Latinx family bursts with love and warmth on the page, showing how adored and longed for this new baby is. The text is simple and weaves Spanish into the English sentences. A glossary of the Spanish words is included at the end of the book.

The illustrations are simple and full of light. They were done with watercolor, colored pencil and Photoshop. The quiet greens and blues carry from the cover through the entire book, creating a unified vision.

A lovely glimpse of a baby’s first day. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Roaring Brook Press.

Robobaby by David Wiesner

Robobaby by David Wiesner

Robobaby by David Wiesner (9780544987319)

In a world of robots, a family gets a new delivery. Cathode has gotten a new baby brother called Flange. The baby comes in a box, advertising it as a new model. Quickly, Cathode’s parents start to assemble the new baby, but it seems that babies have gotten more complex since Cathode was assembled. The parents call on an uncle to come and lend a hand in building Flange. Though Cathode offers to help, she is pushed to the side as Uncle Manny starts to work. But he doesn’t follow the directions and with some “improvements” and a lack of software updates, it all goes wrong. With help from her dog, Cathode steps in, follows the directions, and does the software updates. Finally, there is a newly assembled baby in the family. But wait, there might be another surprise for this family!

Wiesner has won multiple Caldecott Awards and Honors. This picture book is a bit of a departure from his more serious books, offering a merry look at a robotic land where families are much the same as they are now. Cathode is a great character, undaunted by being ignored and willing to make her own choices. The text is strictly speech bubbles, allowing the illustrations to shine and the pacing to be wonderfully brisk.

The illustrations are done in watercolors that glow on the page, filled with the light of robot eyes and a white glowing floor that lights everything. The comic book framing of the illustrations works well as the action picks up, offering glimpses of what is about to go wrong before it actually does.

An engaging look at robots, STEM and sisterhood. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Clarion Books.

Review: A Map into the World by Kao Kalia Yang

A Map into the World by Kao Kalia Yang

A Map into the World by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Seo Kim (9781541538368)

Released on October 1, 2019.

A Hmong girl moves into a new home in this picture book that celebrates community. The house had a swing and a garden full of melons and beans. Inside, the family hung the story cloth about how the Hmong came to America. Ruth and Bob, were two elderly neighbors who had a special bench they sat on. They waved to the girl and her family, and they were even older than the girl’s grandmother, Tais Tais. After her mother had her two little baby brothers, the little girl wanted to escape the crying sometimes, so she headed outside. In fall, the trees lost their leaves and the neighbor worked outside to rake them up. In the winter, no one sat outside anymore and no one waved. Then one day, the girl found out that Ruth had died. As spring arrived, they began work in the garden and saw Bob outside alone. That’s when the girl has an idea about how to show Bob that she cares.

There is a beautiful delicacy to this entire book from the fine-lined illustrations to the skillful balancing of seasons changing, new babies and someone passing. Yang invites readers into a Hmong family, showing elements such as story cloths and multiple generations of families living together. The friendly way of welcoming people to a neighborhood but also not intruding is shown here as well as how seasons in the Midwest connect everyone together in a shared experience of beauty and weather.

Kim’s illustrations embrace the natural world, showing the changing seasons with color and using grass and trees to depict a neighborhood and a home. When the little girl at the end of the book draws images on the sidewalk, there is a direct connection to the story cloth, showing a map of life that is universal but also specific to a Hmong tradition.

Deeply humane and community oriented. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Carolrhoda Books.

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: When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (9781620148372)

At birth, everyone thought Aidan was a girl. But as Aidan grew up, he didn’t like his name, the way his room was decorated, or wearing girl clothes. Aidan cut his hair off, realizing that he was a boy. He told his parents, and they learned from other families what having a transgender child is all about. Aidan picked his new name, they changed his bedroom into one that felt right, and he liked his new clothes. Then Aidan’s mother got pregnant. Aidan loved helping pick clothes for the baby, paint colors for the nursery, and even the baby’s name. But when people asked Aidan if he wanted a little brother or little sister, Aidan didn’t know how to answer. As the big day approached, Aidan worried about being a good big brother. Happily, his mother was there to explain that no matter who the new baby turned out to be, they would be so lucky to have Aidan as a brother.

Lukoff has created an #ownvoices picture book that truly celebrates a child who deeply understands their gender identity to be different from the one they were assigned at birth. The reaction of the supportive parents is beautiful to see in a picture book format as they work with Aidan not only to be able to express himself fully but also to be able to work through natural fears with a new baby. Those fears and the inevitable discussions of gender of a baby are vital parts of the story and allow readers to realize how deeply ingrained gender is in so many parts of our lives.

The illustrations by Juanita are full of energy and show a child with a flair for fashion who expresses himself clearly as a boy. His facial expressions change from his deep unhappiness when he is being treated as a girl to delight at being able to express himself as the boy he truly is. The depiction of a loving family of color handling these intersectionality issues so lovingly is also great to see.

As the parent of a transgender person, this is exactly the sort of picture book our families need and other families must read. Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Lee & Low Books.

Bunches of Board Books

Car, Car, Truck, Jeep by Katrina Charman

Car, Car, Truck, Jeep by Katrina Charman, illustrated by Nick Sharratt (9781681198958)

Sung to the tune of “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” this board book will quickly become a favorite for any little one who loves vehicles. The book is filled with all sorts of cars, trucks, boats, and planes. Each one carries a rhyme with it and creates all sorts of motion on the page. The illustrations are bright and friendly, inviting the littlest readers to explore their thick lines and bold shapes. This is one beeping good board book.

Reviewed from copy provided by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

A Pile of Leaves by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin

A Pile of Leaves by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin (9780714877204)

Just right for fall reading either one-on-one or with a small group, this board book offers a unique experience. With only a preface containing words, the book opens to reveal see-through pages that form a leaf pile. Readers turn the pages, removing one layer of leaves at a time and discovering interesting things hiding in the leaves. There is a worm, ants, a mitten, a key, a grasshopper and more. Beautifully, the leaves continue to pile on the pages to the left, creating a new pile to explore. Clever and a delight to explore, this board book is like breathing crisp fall air in book form.

Reviewed from library copy.

You and Me by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

You and Me by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Susan Reagan (9781568463216)

This exceptional board book tells the story of an older sibling with a very adorable new baby in the house. Sharing time with Grandma isn’t easy,  but the older sibling is patient. The baby has lots of cute things that they can do, but so does the older sibling. In the end, the baby finally goes down for a nap and it’s time for the older child to be paid a lot of attention. The poem in this board book is gentle with rhymes that sway. The illustrations are truly amazing, filled with eyes alight with joy and both siblings wonderfully androgynous as well. These are images of a loving African-American family that celebrate being an older sibling.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Home in the Rain by Bob Graham

Home in the Rain by Bob Graham

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

the-bossier-baby-by-marla-frazee

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.