February 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Oh, Baby | SLJ Spotlight

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There are loads of books about the arrival of cute bundles of joy into a household. These titles address some of the less charming aspects of infants. They disrupt established routines, demand (and command) constant attention, terrorize the family pets, and drive their siblings bonkers.

Beaton, Kate. King Baby. 40p. Scholastic/ Arthur A. Levine Bks. Oct. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545637541.

PB-SP-Beaton-King BabyPreS-Gr 1 –Beaton brings her well-honed snarky humor to the arena of new baby books. From the first page, the smug, egg-shaped, crown-wearing infant proclaims, “I am King Baby!” The tiny tyrant’s reign of terror follows, as crowds of adoring visitors lavish him with attention and affection while he runs his parents ragged with demands for feeding, burping, changing, and bouncing. As the story progresses, King Baby undergoes important milestones, gradually transitioning from a baby to a walking, trike-riding “big boy.” Just when it looks like King Baby is ready to surrender his royal crown, his replacement arrives—a little sister, Queen Baby. Beaton’s hyperexpressive cartoon illustrations create a hilarious visual counterpoint to the baby’s authoritarian first-person narration; on one spread, exhausted parents slump on the couch as the infant gazes victoriously over the floor strewn thick with baby paraphernalia and says, “It is good to be the king.” VERDICT Similar in spirit to Marla Frazee’s The Boss Baby, this is a delightful and silly tale for soon-to-be-older siblings and their weary parents.–Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY

Fergus, Maureen. Buddy and Earl and the Great Big Baby. illus. by Carey Sookocheff. 32p. (Buddy and Earl: Bk. 3). ebook available. Groundwood. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781554987160.

PB-SP-Fergus-Buddy and Earl and the Great Big BabyPreS-Gr 2 –The mismatched friends are back again in this third tale of good dog Buddy and his mischievous hedgehog pal Earl. The two discover the excitement of having a baby visit their home for the day. Charming illustrations capture the warmth and eagerness of this new house guest. The gouache artwork’s warm hues and bold lines set the tone and help express everyone’s curiosities. “‘Is a baby something you plug into the wall?’ asks Earl. ‘Is it something you drive around in?’” Pictures complement the dialogue, with the hedgehog riding around in a wagon or sunbathing in the warmth of a lamp. Buddy and Earl continue to ponder until the moment the baby arrives. They watch in dismay as the baby toddles all over the house, knocking things over, tearing things up, and eating and playing with their food and toys, causing Buddy and Earl to become less than enchanted. Finally, the baby is put down for his nap as Meredith, the little girl, reads to the infant, and at last all is calm. Or is it? This sweet story showcases qualities of friendship, love, and imagination. VERDICT Fans of the first two titles will want to follow Buddy and Earl in this next adventure. Great for fun-filled read-alouds and one-on-one shared readings.–Melissa Smith, Royal Oak Public Library, MI

Morales, Yuyi. Rudas: Niño’s Horrendous Hermanitas. illus. by Yuyi Morales. 40p. ebook available. glossary. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Oct. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722408.
PB-SP-Morales-RudasPreS-Gr 2 –Niño is back in this rollicking adventure, but he takes backseat to the Rudas: his mischievous little sisters. The masked hero’s siblings do not play by the rules, and they conquer each of their opponents with incredibly rude feats and moves that young readers will find familiar (and hilarious): the Poopy Bomb Blowout (smelly diapers), Tag Team Teething (painful bites), and Twofer Tattle (the innocent-looking hermanitas tell on their rivals). But Niño has tricks of his own and stuns the Lucha Queens with the art of storytelling. Morales’s art amazes, from the endpapers to the glossary; her collage-style composition, vivid palette, and childlike, crayon-filled illustrations are just as charming as those in Niño Wrestles the World. The comic book–esque speech bubbles, varied fonts, and exaggerated facial expressions add to the work’s laugh-out-loud moments. Spanish words and lucha libre lingo are peppered throughout, and their meanings can be easily discerned through the images, context, and the short glossary. Young readers will see themselves in this romp of a tale and will want it read aloud again and again. VERDICT Another winner by Morales, this ode to sibling scuffles and makeups will delight kids of all ages. ¡Vivan las hermanitas!–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

Swanson, Matthew. Babies Ruin Everything. illus. by Robbi Behr. 40p. Imprint. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250080578.

PB-SP-Swanson-Babies Ruin EverythingPreS-Gr 2 –This husband and wife author/illustrator team take on the familiar topic of adapting to a new baby in this humorous story. Told from the first-person perspective of a young girl sporting raven-colored pigtails, this book catalogues the many challenges that come with a new sibling. From the moment her dad wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her she is about to be a big sister, the unnamed girl is completely opposed to this intrusion on her life. And things go downhill from there. Her baby brother demands all of her parents’ attention and takes over her bedroom. Worst of all, she’s expected to be nice to him. The girl finally loses her temper after her brother flushes the car keys, causing her to miss a birthday party. The following spread shows four close-up frames of the baby’s face on the left, as he grows increasingly upset. On the right, four frames reflect the girl’s increasing guilt at yelling at him. From here, the girl resolves to be a better sister, and the two of them prove to be a formidable team. Kids with younger siblings may identify with the protagonist’s feelings. The lengthy text drags at times, but the work’s eye-catching illustrations will be a big draw for children. The girl, her baby brother, her pet hamster, and her frenemy, Benny Hogarth, are drawn in a cartoon style with pen and ink on watercolor paper, while the adults and background objects are created digitally. VERDICT Nothing new here, but this is a fun read that can empower big sisters and brothers to make the most of their new family roles.–Kimberly Tolson, Medfield Public Library, MA

Luann Toth About Luann Toth

Luann Toth (ltoth@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor of SLJ Reviews. A public librarian by training, she has been reviewing books for a quarter of a century and continues to be fascinated by the constantly evolving, ever-expanding world of publishing.

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