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WHOA, BABY, WHOA! by Grace Nichols


by Grace Nichols & illustrated by Eleanor Taylor

Age Range: 1 - 3

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-59990-742-0
Publisher: Bloomsbury

An irrepressible, biracial baby crawls toward trouble at every turn, only to hear the titular refrain from safety-conscious family members.

Translucent watercolors and loose lines capture the postures and behaviors of this busy child in a most convincing manner. The cycle of mild tension and relief repeats itself as he dumps and explores the contents of mother’s purse, ascends the bookcase or proceeds toward the dog food. Each time, the tot’s trajectory is diverted before disaster strikes. Nichols’ blend of informal and precise rhymes—within a pattern of gerunds describing the baby’s actions, followed by declarative sentences voicing the reprimands—yields a lively patter that scans reasonably well (if not always perfectly): “Climbing / up Grandpa / like a / mountaineer / Grabbing / at those glasses / he likes to wear… ‘Whoa, / Baby, whoa! / You sure like doing that / but without my glasses / I’m blind as a bat.’ ” Humor is transmitted through the images as visually challenged Grandpa addresses the dog, while Baby sports the senior’s spectacles. The rhythm is supported through the use of a larger and darker type for accented beats. Words wobble, and letters are formed unevenly, mirroring the endless motion of the protagonist. Readers will be delighted to hear a new response when Baby takes his first steps.

As in Helen Oxenbury’s world, this home offers a stimulating environment where an endearing explorer employs his senses to learn and grow. (Picture book. 1-3)