I have a friend who asked me for recommendations for books for their grandson who will be welcoming a new baby into their family. While I have some tried and true choices (a list is at the end of this post), I found a couple new choices to share.
A board book from the publishing company Child's Play called My New Baby takes a new approach to the new baby in the family. Each page includes the older sibling's question or observation about her baby brother. I say "older" and that's relatively speaking. The older sister is clearly between 18 months and 2 years old - exactly the right age for this board book. The questions the little girl asks and the observations she makes - "This bed is bouncy. Is the baby hungry?" - are perfectly and totally toddler. This book is about how the new baby fits into her schedule, life and family - she even acknowledges this when she tells the new baby "You're part of my family now." This book wisely focuses solely on the older toddler and their reaction to a new sibling. The story is told through the toddler's point of view, and shows how that new baby, while changing things, can still be part of the older child's routine. Each picture has at least one parent smiling, caring for and comforting both children. Without being didactic, this book sends the message that life will continue on with a new sibling.
In There's Going to be a Baby, the mother makes the exciting announcement on the first page. The young boy is being told some time during the winter, so he has plenty of time to discuss and wonder about his new sibling, who is arriving the next fall. For some reason, the young boy is very concerned about what the new baby is going to do for a career. This leads to a very amusing set of illustrations of a baby working in a bank, raking leaves, collapsing in an armchair after taking care of zoo animals. These creative ideas are interspersed with more realistic worries such as "We don't really need the baby, do we?" But the feeling throughout this book is one of comfort. In most pictures the mother is hugging the little boy or holding his hand as her stomach grows larger and larger and the baby's due date approaches.
This is a story of love and reassurance between mother and child - interestingly, the father is absent in this picture book. Perhaps he is working, as much of the book takes place during the day. But the young boy and his mother spend their whole day together, playing outside, bathing, doing errands, visiting the doctor. And Oxenbury does an exquisite job of depicting this loving relationship, with tender looks and smiles and the little boy clinging to her knee.
The design of the book is stellar - timeless yet modern in its font and general look. There are no quotation marks to indicate the mom and boy's ongoing conversation throughout the months. Instead the little boy's words are in a lighter blue, the mother's in a navy blue.
The timeless book design perfectly augments Oxenbury's gorgeous illustrations. The rich colors add to the timelessness - in fact these illustrations evoke the early twentieth century, combining scenes of tranquility and everyday life. But then the careful viewer spots a robot or a shaggy purse to keep the illustrations fresh and current. The baby in the small block illustrations is especially humorous - with little smirks or outright glee the baby completes whatever task its older brother has set for it.
At the end of the pregnancy, the little boy goes with his grandfather to meet the new baby. He has worked through his worries and is excited to welcome this new member of his family, just like I hope my friend's grandson will.
Reviewed here -
My New Baby, illustrated by Rachel Fuller. Child's Play, 2009.
There's Going to be a Baby. John Burningham, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. Candlewick, 2010.
both borrowed from Lewis & Clark Library
More new baby titles that I like -
Cornelius P. Mud, Are you Ready for Baby? - Barney Saltzberg
Mail Harry to the Moon - Robie Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley
Benny and Beautiful Baby Delilah - Jean Van Leeuwen; illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Vera's Baby Sister - Vera Rosenberry
Good Knight Sleep Tight - David Melling
I Kissed the Baby! - Mary Murphy
I'm a Big Sister/I'm a Big Brother - Joanna Cole; illustrated by Maxie Chambliss