the ultimate bundle of joy: picture book babies!

Vintage Baby by Pelagie Doane

We’ve got a special delivery today courtesy of the stork.

Yes, they’re here — lots of freshly-powdered, cooing, wriggling bundles of joy — just what we need to cheer us up in the depths of winter. Who doesn’t love chubby, dimpled hands and feet, the sweet smell of a baby’s head, the sound of little burps and giggles?

from Everywhere Babies

Babies are indeed a popular subject when it comes to picture books. A quick check at my local library revealed eight excellent titles published in 2010 alone, three of them about wanting a baby brother (what’s so bad about baby sisters, anyway?). I also reread a few of the classics, like Julius, The Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes, and Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee. Henkes’s book is long by today’s standards, but boy, does it hold up well against all competition. He really nailed the sibling rivalry/jealousy thing with emotions that ring so, so true. But then, Kevin Henkes is quite a genius.

I love the way Marla Frazee draws babies. She’s done quite a few baby-themed books; besides Everywhere Babies, there’s Walk On!: A Guide for Babies of All Ages, New Baby Train, Hush, Little Baby, and last year’s brilliant The Boss Baby. Marla’s babies are never bland or stereotypical; even a quick glance through Everywhere Babies will make you feel all cuddly and ready to tickle somebody’s bottom. You even kind of wish one of the little cutie pies would crawl into your life right now.

Wait, look who’s here! Our great-nephew Charlie, the cutest baby we know and already an avid book lover. Since he’s going to have a brand new baby brother soon, I imagine he’ll appreciate some of today’s stories ☺.

Okay, it’s feeding time.

Hope you enjoy today’s babylicious menu:

BRAND-NEW BABY BLUES by Kathi Appelt, pictures by Kelly Murphy (Harper, 2010). What’s a girl to do when her perfect life is “rearranged” because of a new baby brother? Sing the blues, of course! In perky rhyming verse, a litle girl explains how she was once “the moon and sun,” the “royal pooh-bah,” but now her parents are too busy to play with her, too busy for even a huggle or a snuggle. To make matters worse, the tiny interloper is sleeping in her old bed, wearing her old pajamas, and even has her favorite teddy bear! All he does is sleep and eat and make a mess. Yet the more she looks at him and thinks things through, she realizes he might not be so bad after all, especially once he’s a brother instead of a baby. Little surprises and the blues chorus keep the story from becoming too predictable, while Murphy’s illos capture some great moments. A perfect read aloud.

PECAN PIE BABY by Jacqueline Woodson, pictures by Sophie Blackall (Putnam, 2010). Gia’s new baby brother or sister hasn’t even been born yet, but already it’s all anyone can talk about. From the kids at school, to her sleepover friend Micaela, to Gia’s aunts, her teacher and her cousin, it’s all baby baby baby! If it’s this bad now, what’s going to happen when that “ding-dang baby” actually arrives? Mama even says, “this baby sure loves itself some pecan pie. He’s wanting some right now.” Pecan pie is something special Gia and her mother often shared; that ding-dang baby is even a copycat! Blackall’s Chinese ink and watercolor illustrations illuminate Woodson’s artfully worded text, adding interesting details and perspectives as well as much warmth in depicting a classic dilemma. A lovely reassuring tale about adjusting to change. (See this review with spreads at 7-Imp.) Highly recommended.

BUT I WANTED A BABY BROTHER! by Kate Feiffer, pictures by Diane Goode (Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster, 2010). Oliver Keaton is sure he’s going to have a new baby brother, but by some terrible mistake, he gets a sister — and no one seems to notice! Asking his parents about it doesn’t get him anywhere, so he tries to remedy the problem himself. Can he trade his sister off? He looks in the park, the zoo, all over town for a suitable candidate. He even checks the classified ads. But none of the prospective baby brothers seem as smart, can crawl as fast, or can sleep through the night like his sister.

He searches for months, over a year, in fact, to no avail. He gives up, because, well, his sister is more fun to play with than anyone else. But wait! His mom’s going to have another baby. Now he can have a baby brother at last. Does he? Charming and engaging from beginning to end, and Goode’s illustrations provide added humor with an irresistible portrait of Oliver’s baby sister. *See also WILL IT BE A BABY BROTHER? by Eve Bunting and Beth Spiegel (Boyds Mills Press, 2010), and ONCE UPON A BABY BROTHER by Sarah Sullivan and Tricia Tusa (FSG, 2010).

THE BOSS BABY by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane Books, 2010). A brilliantly executed tale of the effect an unusual baby has on one family. This “boss baby” likes to get his way — drinks made to order 24/7, a private jet plane, meetings around the clock. He’s particular, demanding, and is prone to fits if he doesn’t get what he wants when he wants. One day he notices his workers slacking off. They don’t respond when he calls a meeting. This calls for some serious out-of-the-box action. He speaks! “Ma-ma?” “Da-da?” Wow, instant results! It feels good, and the boss baby is actually pleased. But for only a moment. Back to his office; mustn’t ever let them forget who’s the boss! Love the unique concept, the wit, humor and Marla’s little tyrant dressed in a suit and tie. A paean to the power of babies, this gem has received starred reviews from PW, SLJ, and Kirkus. Highly recommended.

THE BAREFOOTED, BAD-TEMPERED BABY BRIGADE by Deborah Diesen, pictures by Tracy Dockray (Tricycle Press, 2010). Don’t mess with these babies — they’re staging an all-out protest crawl! Down the block, straight up main street, right into the town hall, legions of diapered, pajama-clad, nasty-tempered munchkins decide it’s high time they make their demands known and take a firm stand.

What are they protesting? No more “frilly clothes great-grandma made,” no more mashed potatoes, don’t even think about washing their faces. Furthermore, they won’t keep their clothes clean, leave their bibs on, have their hair washed, and absolutely won’t settle down. They scowl and carry big “NO!” signs and are determined to have their way. What will come of their protest? A clever concept illustrating the inimitable power of babies, and ultimately their enduring loveability.

THERE’S GOING TO BE A BABY by John Burningham, pictures by Helen Oxenbury (Candlewick, 2010). In this handsome, beautifully designed book, an expectant mother and her son anticipate the arrival of a new baby. Through a conversation spanning nine months and four seasons, the mother wonders whether the baby will grow up to be a chef, artist, gardener, zookeeper, sailor, banker, doctor or nurse, while the little boy expresses his hope, excitement and trepidation. 

The boy decides he wouldn’t actually want his sibling to cook his food, be his doctor, or make a mess with paints. By the same token, if the baby became a banker, he’d give the boy lots of money, and once the baby grew bigger, the boy would have someone to play with. This gentle, reassuring story beautifully blends the mother’s reverie with the boy’s child-centric concerns in a fresh way. Oxenbury’s retro style illustrations, with its clean, simple lines, strong colors and story-within-a-story comic-like fantasy sequences (love the chef and teddy bear ones!), give the book a timeless feel. Love and highly recommend this one, which has all the makings of a classic (see this 7-Imp review for some spreads).

***One final title, Babyberry Pie by Heather Vogel Frederick, illustrated by Amy Schwartz (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), will be featured in a separate post since I have spreads to share. Stay tuned!

What are your favorite baby-themed books?

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

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