Babies, Babies, Babies

Baby2Cindy: We recently received a 30th Anniversary edition of 101 Things to Do with Baby (Groundwood/House of Anansi 2014) and I looked at it, thought, “cool, glad to see this adorable book is still around,” and set it aside. This picture book classic illustrating 101 ways you can interact with a baby was first published by Viking Kestral (Penguin) in 1984 when I was a baby librarian working my first professional job as a public library children’s librarian. The pastel illustrations of a big sister, a mother and a father…and of course a baby…provide a delightful “owner’s manual” for new older siblings. I saw the familiar cover, assumed it was identical to the one that I had handed to many a young mother as I started my library career.

Lynn’s reaction to receiving the book was a little different and she did some digging so I’ll let her tell you what she found.

Baby1Lynn:  I missed this wonderful book when it first came out.  My sons were then 7 and 4 and we had moved on to bikes and blocks and T-ball.  But I have 5 grandsons now and the youngest two are 3 1/2 and 6 months so babies and all that go along with them are fresh in my mind.  I loved this really sweet book and it’s story told in panels of the 101 ways a small girl interacts with her baby brother.  When Cindy told me about loving the original, I  had to find it of course.  One of our consortium libraries had it to my delight and it was fun to compare the two.  Much is still the same – the charming, often humorous and very perceptive depictions of a little girl and the new baby in her family.  My little grandsons are just about these ages and it felt a bit as if Jan Ormerod had been peeking in on them.  She has updated the book in several ways too.  The color palette is fresher and more modern, changing oranges and browns to brighter tones with a crisper feel.  Very noticeable, is the change in the types of baby equipment and furniture in 30 years.  Baby buggies are replaced with jogging strollers and an up-to-the-minute car seat replaces something that looks like a bassinet!  And the Grandmother in the story has gone from a house-dress clad white-haired lady to something a lot more like the way we baby boomer grandmothers like to think of ourselves.  Another change is to the title.  The original is 101 Things to Do with a Baby and the new one is 101 Things to Do with Baby – a subtle shift from a baby as object to Baby as individual.  Ormerod’s use of panels was innovative 30 years ago and the book design retains a fresh current feel aided by all the updates.

What hasn’t changed is the warm charm of the book,  After 30 years, this  funny book still captures the sweetness and occasional challenges of life with a young family.  So celebrate with us.  Congratulations, Jan Ormerod and thank you!

bluesCindy: Babies aren’t always as happy-go-lucky as the chap in Ormerod’s book, though. Sometimes Baby’s Got the Blues as Carol Diggory Shields tells us in her new picture book (Candlewick 2014). Sing along with me…

“Woke up this morning soggy,
And that smell
kept getting riper.
But I can’t talk,
no way to say,
‘Won’t somebody change my diaper?'”

No teeth to chew…he cannot walk…jailed in a crib…no wonder he has those poor little baby blues, complete with chorus. With her tongue planted firmly in her cheek Shields gives older siblings something to ponder when they think the baby has the easy life. Lauren Tobia has fun with the illustrations, too, giving lots of play to music in the colorful illustrations and there’s a happy ending for all.




About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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