The trope that imagines a baby as an exotic creature—or perhaps even an alien—is taken to full and nearly irresistible flower in this picture book for those expecting new babies.
Menino is Portuguese for “little boy” but stands in for “new baby” of any gender. His arrival is greeted with astonishment as he completely disrupts the ordered lives of his parents, in the most adorable way. Drawings rendered with pen, ink, and Photoshop look as though they might have been dashed off on kraft paper but are of marvelous sophistication and stupendously squiggly line; they guide readers through the deadpan text. The body and activities of the Menino are described as if entirely new to the observers: his eyes are “two little windows”; “the Poop Fairy Godmother…helps him to empty himself.” Though he speaks his own language, eventually he begins to give it up and pragmatically learns what is “spoken at his house.” The author marvels at how this creature reminds others of the child inside themselves. She illustrates that by sketching small blue figures inside of the adults who interact with him. The processes of elimination, regurgitation, nourishment, and other perfectly normal activities are illustrated clearly (and with humor).
Children expecting a new sibling might take some wisdom here, but it may find its most natural audience in new parents, who can use it as both a primer and a comfort object. (Picture book. 5-8, adult)