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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? Written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2016. $21.00 ages 7 and up

"Sheila held out a bag of jelly beans. Baby selected a yellow one. "Eugenia often says that jelly beans are bad for the teeth," said Baby. She put the jelly bean in her mouth. It tasted like sunshine. "Eugenia is not a fan of the jelly bean." "That doesn't surprise me," said Sheila. "Have another one." She held out the bag again. Baby selected a green jelly bean. It tasted like green leaves ... "

In this third book in the Deckawoo Drive series we meet the Lincoln sisters, Eugenia and Baby. They are elderly and have spent their lives with Eugenia (the older sister) being the 'boss' of Baby. It's difficult to believe it began when Baby was a baby and Eugenia refused to call her Lucille, her given name.

"Your parents named you Baby?"
"No," said Baby. "That is what my
sister, Eugenia, named me. Very early on,
Eugenia said, 'I don't care what her name
is. I am going to call her Baby. She is the
baby, my baby.' And so I became Baby.
And remained Baby."

Baby is having lovely dream about taking a journey when she is rudely awakened, once again, by her older sister with the terse reminder that 'goals must be set. Lists must be made. Tasks must be accomplished.' It's the final straw in a big box full of straws. Baby lays down the pencil she is using to scribe her sister's list when she announces that she is going on a journey. Baby knows it is an important decision, and necessary. Stella, the little girl who lives next door, has questions and the answers lead to her helping Baby make the first step in her journey. Stella takes Baby to the train station and help her buy the ticket that will take her to Fluxom.

So begins a path to new learning and understanding for Baby. It is one of wonder - meeting with fellow passengers and talking about her life helps her discover who she really is - and joy. She tells people her given name, shares laughter, realizes that she loves comics, and that she has an affinity for small children and meeting their needs.

Kate DiCamillo's ability to tell a tender-hearted yet humorous tale is shown to perfection here. Imagine young readers as they discover Baby to be a grown (in fact older) woman who shares the same concerns and annoyances they feel at the hands and directions of their siblings. Perfection!

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