Friday, November 12, 2010

Cybils Picture Book Nominations: Books and Babies

I, personally, consider more than one "mommy loves her baby" book one too many. However, my guru of all things baby and "normal", our adult services librarian, informs me you cannot have too many "mommy loves her baby" books. Annoyingly, she appears to be correct. Of course, this particular one, Who loves the little lamb by Lezlie Evans is also illustrated by the versatile but unmistakable David McPhail, so we will make an exception. Just this once. One by one, we see fussy, messy, clumsy, naughty animal children - and one by one we see a loving mama for each animal.

Verdict: Charming McPhail illustrations and a theme that never fails to attract parents of babies and toddlers make this a definite must for your library collection.

ISBN: 9781423116592; Published January 2010 by Hyperion; Borrowed from the library

Every time I decide I'm not interested in John Burningham any more, he goes and does something amazing, like this lovely collaboration, There's going to be a baby by John Burningham, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. It's a fascinating collection of dialogue and layout styles. There's question and answer format, as the mother tells her young son about the baby and when it's going to arrive. There's wordless comic panels, as the small boy imagines things the baby might do when it gets older - and from there goes into a wild spree of nonsensical imagination. The little boy isn't sure how he feels about this new person coming into their lives, but the mother's warm and steady love and the boy's imagination reconcile him to his new sibling at the end of the story and "We're going to love the baby, aren't we?" He asks his grandad at the end of the story. Oxenbury's clean, simple lines and classic comic panel illustrations are an excellent fit for this warm, joyful, and funny story.

Verdict: If you get one "new baby" book this year, this should probably be it. Highly recommended.

ISBN: 9780763649074; Published September 2010 by Candlewick; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

What happens when that baby grows up a little? You get Once upon a baby brother by Sarah Sullivan, illustrated by Tricia Tusa. Lizzie is a storyteller. She writes them, she tells them, and she's the center of attention. Until her little brother, Marvin, comes along and suddenly there's no one to listen to her stories anymore except her loyal dog, Big George. Marvin loves Lizzie, but she can't stand this little creature who has taken away all the attention - and messes up her room, and is just annoying. So she writes stories with herself as the hero and Marvin as the villain. She writes and writes and writes...until one day Marvin goes to visit Gramma. Suddenly, Lizzie doesn't have anything to write about anymore! Will she get her inspiration back? Will she ever write again?

Verdict: You don't have the option to buy one younger sibling book this year - you have to get two. Flora's Very Windy Day and Once upon a baby brother are the definite must haves of the year! Lizzie's feelings, dreams, and responses are perfectly spot-on and this is an excellent book for reading aloud to kindergarten through 2nd grade.

ISBN: 9780374346355; Published June 2010 by Farrar Straus,and Giroux; Borrowed from the library

In Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla, illustrated by Amy Cordova, simple rhymes surround babies of different ethnicities celebrating an unnamed Hispanic festival. There are a few Spanish words mixed into the story and what appear to be several different elements of Mexican fiestas. The colors are bright and charming and the rhymes vigorous and rhythmic.

The audience for this appears to be toddlers. It would be a good book to use in a storytime about celebrating and have the children try out some of the different actions - using shakers, dancing, etc.

It would be best used with a group that at includes at least a few Spanish-speaking parents and children. If your whole audience only speaks English and has never seen a fiesta of any kind, they're probably not going to get much out of this book. Children old enough to appreciate the idea of different celebrations and languages will be too old for this book.

Verdict: Optional, depends on your audience and community; it has worked well with our toddlers

ISBN: 9781582463193; Published March 2010 by Tricycle Press; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

Boss Baby by Marla Frazee is hilarious. A stubborn, egotistic little boss has showed up - and he's working those adults into the ground! When his management techniques stop working, how will he get his employees' attention? Frazee's trademark pencil and gouache illustrations create soft backgrounds and humorous expressions throughout this story of infant tyranny.

While some older children will appreciate the humor of this story, it's really aimed at parents - especially new parents. But it's always good to have at least a few picturebooks adults can chuckle over!

Verdict: Buy this one and display it - circulation guaranteed.

ISBN: 978442401679; Published August 2010 by Beach Lane; Review copy provided by the publisher for Cybils

The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Tracy Dockray. Maybe it's my state of complete exhaustion, but this book really didn't make sense to me. A horde of babies are crawling, toddling, and riding downtown. They are revolting against bedtime, baths, having to be quiet, being fussed over, naps, being clean, eating vegetables, being cuddled, etc. etc. etc. They finally make it to the stage, proclaim that they are smelly, whiny and messy, and the parents applaud their cuteness and "spunk." Then they want to be cuddled and promise not to be bad-tempered babies for long.

There are a few adult jokes, like the babies refusing to play with smart toys to make them skip a grade. But the things the babies are revolting against are so random. I just don't understand what the point of the book is. It's partially in rhyme, partly not, which creates a jarring effect. There are a variety of ethnicities shown, especially in the individual complaints, but the closest the minorities get to the front of the parade is one girl who might be Asian helping to carry the secondary banner and one African American child is part of a group at the front of the stage. It looked to me like all the "leaders" were white. Also, there only appeared to be two African American children total, they just got reused. The art is created in photoshop, with photographs and illustrations mixed together.

Maybe I'm just feeling tired and cranky, but I didn't see the point of the "plot", and the illustrations looked washed out, probably because most of the kids were white. Anybody else have any thoughts on this one, or take longer than I did to study each child and count up how often they appeared?

Verdict: Optional, might want to add it if you have lots of fans of the author's Pout-Pout Fish series.

ISBN: 9781582462745; Published March 2010 by Tricycle Press; Borrowed from the library

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