JUST LIKE A BABY

Everyone in baby Ellen’s extended family has big dreams for their little girl. From truck driving to bird watching, family members encourage the babe to follow in their footsteps. Ellen responds accordingly each time: She yawns, snoozes and babbles until the family’s chatter finally overwhelms her. With a dramatic protest, Ellen “lets out an earthshaking howl, a cloud-ruffling yowl, a listen-to-me-I’m-a-baby squall,” and proud Mama truthfully declares, “For now Ellen will do just what Ellen wants.” Lively dialogue and an upbeat refrain enhance the spare text. Davenier’s watercolor-and-ink illustrations seamlessly blend colors; bursts of rosy reds lead to an arresting presentation. Soft, thin lines exude a comforting familiarity, and colored typefaces vary for added emphasis. Baby Ellen remains fully hidden from view until the final double-page spread; her crossed legs and smug smile reveal uninhibited satisfaction. While the narrative’s pointed message specifically targets new parents, taut pacing and soothing art combine to create a vibrant read-aloud for young listeners. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8118-5026-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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JAZZ BABY

A snappy rhyming text celebrates an extended family’s joyous gyrations to the jazz spinning on the turntable. From waking to sleep, Baby’s right in the thick of it, as siblings, grandparents and cousins move and groove: “So they BOOM-BOOM-BOOM / and they HIP-HIP-HOP / and the bouncin’ baby boogies with a BOP-BOP-BOP.” Wheeler’s verse scans beautifully and begs to be read aloud—danced to, even—making this a fine choice for preschool and kindergarten story times. Christie’s bold, double-paged gouache compositions locate this colorfully garbed, expressively hip family within an equally vibrant community. As Baby’s big dark eyes get glassy with fatigue, the party winds down. “Daddy sings blues. / Mama sings sweet. / While that snoozy-woozy baby . . . / . . . sleeps deep, deep, deep.” Exultant and infectious, from the red-and-yellow-striped endpapers to the final “OH YEAH!” (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-15-202522-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2007

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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