Kirkus Reviews QR Code
DARLING BABY by Maira Kalman Kirkus Star


by Maira Kalman ; illustrated by Maira Kalman

Pub Date: June 1st, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-316-33062-6
Publisher: Little, Brown

A grandmother records beach days spent with her grandchild in lyrical language and expressive artwork.

Kalman’s notes from her shore summer with Darling Baby turn into a gorgeous recounting of shared discoveries (seashells, stones, silver fish, rabbits) and experiences (a lightning storm, a bustling party, a nap on the lawn). Vivid full-bleed spreads deliver Technicolor experiences in vibrant strokes of pigment and words as well—Kalman incorporates hand-lettered text (in alternating emphatic caps and romantic script) into these charming paintings, allowing her voice and her images to seamlessly cohere. Readers bask in Kalman’s bright visions of summer’s sweetness absorbed alongside a child just greeting the world. The pair, at either end of mortality, find stones and shells and note that “Oskar the dog looked unhappy in his sweater.” Kalman’s ebullient illustrations, delightful portraiture, and idiosyncratic phrasing imbue the quotidian with complex (sometimes mysterious) meaning and weight. When waves pull a dead sea turtle back into “the vast ocean,” she tells the babe, “I think that is a good thing. At any rate, it is a thing. I am telling you this because I know you will understand.” Readers old and young will recognize the profound mutuality felt between grandmother and grandchild throughout this enchanting book, straightforward in affect but brimming with love. Its small trim emphasizes the intimacy of their relationship.

Incantatory pictures and words project a fresh world for people of all ages.

(Picture book. 3-6, adult)