“When Mama got a new baby...Phoebe got a new digger.” Comical illustrations and text play this dynamic out as the baby cries, eats and poops; Digger (a toy backhoe), controlled by Phoebe, is equal in attention-seeking behavior, knocking over trash, chasing the cat and pulling tablecloths down. An outing to the park becomes the perfect distraction, as Digger enjoys real dirt and Phoebe her imagination. Parental misinterpretation of behavior lands Phoebe in timeout—a perfect representation of Phoebe’s feelings regarding the injustice of the family’s latest change. When play resumes, a bully snatches Digger. Phoebe tries to get him back, but to no avail. When she’s on the brink of tears, Mama reassuringly steps in. With Digger back in Phoebe’s arms, and Phoebe back in Mama’s arms, the heroine once again feels safe and loved. With a new connection to her sibling made, a frozen treat shared and her world restored, all ends happily. Newman’s expressive drawings, done in a loose and economical style, serve the story well. His artwork, from the way he considers perspective to the interesting and emotionally truthful portrayals of the characters, allows readers (and parents!) to identify with this feisty yet sensitive heroine.
Nuanced and humorous, this is a worthy addition to the new-sibling shelf. (Picture book. 3-6)