Children’s Books

Children’s Books: Reviews, in brief

CorrespondentApril 27, 2013 

The children’s book marketplace is filled with books for siblings-to-be. Each shows a different perspective, all of them comforting.

Karen Katz’s “Now I’m Big” (McElderry, ages 1-3) demonstrates the author’s gift for understanding young children. “I used to be a baby,” begins the book, which then cites a string of early behaviors such as drinking from a bottle and crawling. After each, Katz shows an more mature child, who, for example, drinks from a cup and crawls. Nearing the end, the narrator announces that she has a “new baby sister” and her helpful acts “now that I’m big.” The words are simple, but expressive; the illustrations are large and colorful.

Carol Roth’s “Will You Still Love Me?” (Whitman, ages 18 months-3) voices the question very young siblings-to-be have a hard time articulating. This rhyming board book features sets of animal children who wonder about the post-sibling future and mothers who reassure them. Mother Cat begins, “You’re my angel…yes, it’s true./All the kittens in the world/won’t change my love for you.” Bunny, polar bear, duck, mouse and human mothers vanquish young worry with the same tenderness.

Barbara Park’s “Ma! There’s Nothing to Do Here! A Word from Your Baby-in-Waiting” (Random, ages 3-5) is new in board book. The main character is a baby who addresses its pregnant mother with humorous letters like: “Dear Ma, What’s a baby to do in a womb with no view?” The illustrations give simultaneous views of a big belly and the bored baby inside. This romp of rhyming complaints voiced in bouncy rhythms playfully explain what’s going on inside.

Lola Schaefer’s “One Special Day: A Story for Big Brothers and Sisters” (Hyperion, ages 2-4) begins wordlessly –a car drives away and the passenger waves to a small boy and his grandmother. The next series of pictures show an active boy who interacts with animals; the text accompanies them with a string of similes demonstrating that Spencer is fast, tall, loud, funny, wild, messy and free. Then comes a contrast when one special day, Spencer is quiet and waiting. “And then he was gentle, because for the first time ever – Spencer was a brother.” A sleeping infant is snuggled in his lap as he beams. In perfect balance to the wordless beginning, the final illustrations portray the sweet bond of the happy siblings.

Lesley Simpson’s “A Song for My Sister” (Random House, ages 2-5) and Michelle Edward’s “Room for the Baby” (Random, ages 4-6) celebrate babies and Jewish heritage. Simpson’s heroine, Mira, is a big sister who wishes for a baby until “waaas” fill the house. Mira’s singing finally calms the baby at her simchat bat, her “welcome to the world.” This book shows several traditions – Jewish, wailing babies and consoling siblings. Edward’s book synchronizes the unnamed hero’s increasing worry about space as the Jewish holidays speed by during his mother’s pregnancy. Other family traditions of recycling and community unity solve the situation.

Wilde: susiewilde@bellsouth.net

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