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Friday, April 22, 2011

There's Going to be a Baby, written by John Burningham and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. Candlewick, Random House. 2010. $20.00 ages 3 and up

"Maybe when the
baby grows up,
it will be a chef
and work in
a restaurant.

I don't think
I'd eat anything
that was made
by the baby."

Look closely at the cover and you'll know exactly how the two characters in this reassuring picture book are feeling. The little one wears a apprehensive and concerned look (even his cat seems unsure), and the mom is quietly reasurring with a warm smile and a firm holding of hands. The news of the baby's arrival is shared and the questions flow.

Each thought is innocently spoken and honestly considered. I love that the child's queries are made bolder by using a darker font, while the mother's answers are in a gentler color to reflect soft comfort. No concern is treated lightly: 

"What will we call the baby?
If it's a little girl, I'd like to call her Susan
or Josephine or  perhaps Jennifer.
I hope it's a boy, so we can play
boys' games together, and I think he
should be called Peter or Spider-Man.
What will the baby do?"

As they discuss the many occupations a baby might try, the soon-to-be-sibling has a quick and reflective response. The artwork on the following two page spread shows, in a series of panels, the mischief that could ensue should the baby take each particular path.

Interpersed at intervals, the child is allowed to show his concern over the upcoming event:

"Mommy, can't you
tell the baby to go away?
We don't really need
the baby, do we?"

This very talented and caring team are mindful of the insecurities felt when a new baby's arrival is imminent. They use their plentiful skills to show their young audience that they are not alone if they harbor worries about the same thing. In the end, all he really needs to know is that a parent's love for him will not change with an addition to the family. Mission accomplished!

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