Kid's Stuff -- Books About Siblings & New Babies (page 2)
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"No Foal Yet"
Written by Jessie Haas
Illustrated by Jos. A. Smith
(Greenwillow, 1995)

Part of a beautiful series about life on a family farm. A young girl named Nora and her grandparents are waiting for one of their horses, a mare named Bonnie, to give birth. Grandpa stays up late several nights in a row, but it is Nora who happens to be there when the foal finally comes. A nice, simple story which imparts the sense of drama and urgency surrounding a farmyard birth, but only hints at potential dangers. Again, Haas imparts a sense of wonder and reverence for life... Kids who are into horses should love this book; nice, also, if you want to teach them about life on the farm. (A)

"Baby Talk"
Written by Fred Haitt
Illustrated by Mark Graham
(Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1999)

Joey, a four-ish, five-ish year old boy, has a new baby brother and is initially uncomfortable around the newcomer, declining to help feed it or change its daipers, etc. But Joey finds his niche in the baby's life when he starts responding to the infant's babbling, and helps teach it to talk. A perfect book to read to a toddler old enough look back at their own verbal development and both laugh and relish the chance to dip back into the old vocabulary of "agoo" and "ageek." Also, the complexity of the social relationship of the two siblings is rich and fascinating. Great artwork by Mark Graham, too. This one was a big hit in our household, with lots of "read-it-again" action.

"It's Not Fair!"
Written by Anita Harper
Illustrated by Mary McQuillan
(Holiday House, 2007)

An interesting book about sibling rivalries and about growing older and being able to do new things... The narrator -- a post-toddler little girl -- complains about all the things her little brother gets to do or get away with that she isn't allowed to do. He can make messes, throw tantrums, ask to be carried, but she can't, because she's too old. She works her way up into a fair snit, but then she realizes there are all sort of things that she's allowed to do that the baby can't: eat certain foods, play on the jungle gym equipment, stay up late sometimes, etc. and then she thinks maybe being a big kid isn't so bad after all. Nice, cute artwork, and a well-constructed narrative. Some parents may shy away from the book because of the apparent negativity, but Harper ties things up pretty well and puts a positive spin on it. A good starting point for discussions about all these issues. (B)

"Julius, Baby Of The World"
Written by Kevin Henkes
Illustrated by Kevin Henkes
(Harper, 1995)

A little girl-mouse named Lilly bubbles with jealousy towards her little baby brother, and dances around his cradle uttering various insults, each one framed more cleverly than the last. Funny stuff if you enjoy clever insults and explorations of hostility, but maybe less enchanting for parents who don't want to introduce negative concepts and behavior into a highly charged emotional situation. Personally, I'm in the nervous nelly camp: why ask for trouble? I wouldn't recommend this book offhand, although many folk swear by it. Guess it would be cool for folks who want to honestly explore the darker side of sibling rivalry; for me it's just too explicit, to the point where it verges on seeming like a how-to manual for little kids who want to say mean things to babies. (C-)

"A Baby Sister For Frances"
Written by Russell Hoban
Illustrated by Lillian Hoban
(Harper Collins, 1964)

A nice sibling rivalry book, with little Frances feeling left out as her parents coo and and dote over a new baby... She finally picks up her stuff and "runs away" (to another part of the house) but comes back after she overhears her parents talking (so that she can hear them) about how much they miss her and how much fun they have when the whole family is together. You gotta love those little rhymes Frances makes, too! (B)

"Little Rabbit's New Baby"
Written by Harry Horse
Illustrated by Harry Horse
(Puffin Books, 2006)


"Waiting For Baby"
Written by Annie Kubler
Illustrated by Annie Kubler
(Child's Play, 2001)

No words, just pictures. A pregnant mom, a little kid: you fill in the blanks as you see best.

"A Monster In The House"
Written by Elisa Kleven
Illustrated by Elisa Kleven
(Dutton, 1998)

An amusing tale of sibling revelry... It all starts when a family moves into a new house and the son meets the girl next door. He asks if they can go to her house to play, and she says no, because they have a monster there that's fast asleep. She describes the monster -- how it yells, and throws things, and sucks its own toes -- while the boy imagines a more and more terrible boogieman. It turns out, though that the "monster" she's talking about is her baby brother, going through typical infant behavior... Not only that, but she loves the little guy, and "monster" is an affectionate nickname. A nice treatment of the sibling theme, with more of Kleven's kooky, chaotically detailed artwork. (B)

"My New Baby"
Written by Annie Kubler
Illustrated by Annie Kubler
(Child's Play, 2000)


"Love That Baby"
Written by Kathryn Lasky
Illustrated by Jennifer Plecas
(Candlewick, 2004)

A what-to-expect, how-to manual for little kids (and maybe new parents) in a household about to recieve a new baby. Do they drool? Why, yes they do. Poop? Yup, that too. What do you do when they cry? Oh, all kinds of things! The book also suggests some games you can play and behavior you can expect... The text is a bit thick, but it's still a cute book, and could be useful to help explain what's going on, or about to happen when you get that little bundle o' joy. (B)

"Froggy's Baby Sister"
Written by Jonathan London
Illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
(Penguin/Viking, 2003)

A mixed bag. A boy named Froggy is all amped-up about the prospect of having a little baby brother, but gets bummed when he finds out Mom had a girl (guess amphibians don't get ultrasounds...), named Pollywogilina. The sexism of Froggy's response is kind of a drag, and tilts the book too far into a boy-centric direction for my tastes, but after he recovers from that cruel blow, Froggy gets impatient for the day when he can play with cute little Polly. He discovers that infants can be kind of boring (especially when you're waiting for their tail to drop off so they can walk...) but he hangs in there and is the first one to see her walk. Eventually, the situation improves when Froggy gets a chance to explore his own nurturing side and form a bond with his inert little sibling. And of course he finds a chance to blush: when he puts Polly's diaper on sideways and it leaks... Boy, is Froggy red in the face! (C)

"Tell Me My Story, Mama"
Written by Deb Lund
Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata
(Harper Collins, 2004)

A little girl chirpily asks her mother to tell her the whole story of how she was born, prompting her at every turn for the details she knows by heart. In the end it turns out that mama is expecting a new baby soon and reassures her girl that while the new baby will have its story, "You'll still have yours." This is a really nice book; other than their getting caught in a blizzard the day of the birth, the story elements are mostly universal to all readers (except same sex and single parents and homebirth-ers) and the undercurrent of humor and warmth is quite nice. This humor is mirrored in the artwork which adds great details, such as the mom chowing down late at night while still pregnant and the dazed, loopy look on the father's face after the baby is born. Lots of smiling on everyone's faces, making this a very happy birth story... There are several pages of their being in doctor's offices and at the hospital, which may seem intimidating, but in the context of the book, there's really no anxiety attached. Great book... recommended! (A)

Written by Emily & Patricia MacLachlan
Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
(Joanna Cotler, 2004)

A sweet story written by the mother-daughter team of Patricia and Emily MacLachlan, in which the arrival of a new baby is seen through the eyes of the household pets, a pragmatic cat called Nigel and a neurotic canine named Julia. When the baby comes, the "man and the woman" assume it sleeps peacefully all night long, which leaves it up to Nigel and Julia to pick up the slack in the childcare department. Although the dog is initially resentful of the newcomer, she grows to love her, as does the cat. So close is their bond, in fact, that the Bittle's first words are "woof" and "meow!" This bright, playful romp is a fun way to approach the whole anxiety-about-the-second-child, sibling rivalry issue -- it also reads well for single-child families; the doggie and the kitty are engaging all by themselves, and the story is a hoot. The highly stylized, cartoonish art by Dan Yaccarino is a delight... Yaccarino, a television animator who has recently emerged as a picturebook author, adds a liveliness and good humor that perfectly matches that of the text. Great book! (A)

"I Can't Talk Yet, But When I Do..."
Written by Julie Markes
Illustrated by Laura Rader
(Harper Collins, 2003)

A little, preverbal baby thinks about all the things it would like to say, many of them directed to an older sibling who teaches, plays with and protects her, giving her love even when there are moments of friction. A really lovely story about growth, self-awareness and positive sibling relations. Sweet. Highly recommended... and also a great book for babies who are developing their verbal skills. My girl really loved this one, and asked for it to be read over and over. (A+)

"The New Baby"
Written by Mercer Mayer
Illustrated by Mercer Mayer
(Golden Books, 2001)


"My Little Brother"
Written by David McPhail
Illustrated by David McPhail
(Harcourt, 2004)

This one's pitched at a slightly older age group than most sibling rivalry books... The narrator is an older boy -- maybe 7-10 years old? -- whose pain-in-the-neck little brother is perhaps three or four. The older boy complains that he has more responsibilities than his brother, and that the little guy keeps getting in his stuff. But when it comes down to it, they're both buddies, and when he goes off to camp, big brother leaves his younger sibling in charge of their puppy and all of the toys. A sweet, nostalgia-drenched book... Not McPhail's best, but still pretty darn good.

"17 Things I'm Not Allowed To Do Anymore"
Written by Jenny Offill
Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
(Schwartz & Wade, 2007)

A charming first-person narrative of semi-innocent misbehavior, as a young girl (perhaps about six or seven years old) tells of all the mischievous things she's done (recently) and is no longer allowed to do... Some are harmless enough, like walking to school backwards (and back home, backwards, as well...), while others, particularly those that involve torturing her little brother with staples and glue, show a teensy bit more malice. For older kids with open-minded parents, this book could be a real delight -- this cheerful young lady would have a real blast hanging out with Ramona and Beezus -- but with younger readers, you might want to file this away under, "Why give them any ideas?" I really enjoyed the artwork, which deftly captured both detail and emotion... Every page was genuinely funny, although admittedly in the funny-because-it's-painfully-true category... Definitely worth checking out! (B+)

"Welcome With Love"
Written by Jenny Overend
Illustrated by Julie Vivas
(Kane Miller, 1999)


"Back Into Mommy's Tummy"
Written by Thierry Robberecht
Illustrated by Phillipe Goossens
(Clarion, 2005)

A child expresses all sorts of regressive, I-wanna-go-back-inside-the-womb thoughts, and is met with loving, untroubled responses from the parents... Turns out it's because the family is expecting a new baby, and the older sibling can't wait to meet it... just wants to climb right in there and say "hi...!" This book's okay, but it doesn't actually seem to "say" all that much. Nice art, though. (C+)

"Hello, Baby!"
Written by Lizzy Rockwell
Illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell
(Dragonfly, 2000)

I haven't read this one yet, but apparently it's one of the best books if you're looking for something really scientific and explicit (ie showing the fetus and womb and the various stages of conception, expectancy and delivery. Might not be for everyone, but the people that like it seem to really like it a lot. (-)

"Only Six More Days"
Written by Marisabina Russo
Illustrated by Marisabina Russo
(Puffin, 1988)

The emotional life of little children is explored again in this tale of an older sister who gets grumpy about the excitement surrounding her little brother's upcoming birthday. Might be too negative in tone for some parents, but the emotions it depicts are real enough to want to grapple with. Ah, sibling rivalry! (B-)

"The Trouble With Baby"
Written by Marisabina Russo
Illustrated by Marisabina Russo
(Greenwillow, 2003)

Sam and Hannah are close siblings, with lots of games that they play together and secrets they share, but when Hannah gets a new doll for her birthday and starts doing everything with "Baby," Sam feels left out. His jealousy escalates until finally the two children stop talking to each other. Of course, in the end, they make up and each kid adjusts a bit to make the other happy... This story is similar to Katherine's Doll, by Elizabeth Winthrop, with emotional notes that ring true throughout. I wouldn't recommend a steady diet of this story, but if you're exploring these sort of negative emotions or having a similar problem in your family, you might like this book. Recommended. (A)

"The Big Brown Box"
Written by Marisabina Russo
Illustrated by Marisabina Russo
(Greenwillow, 2000)

Two brothers, Sam and Ben, get into a big conflict when Dad gives Sam a big cardboard refrigerator box to play with, and Sam is mean and refuses to share his new house/cave/boat plaything with the toddler, Ben. When Ben cries, their parents try to intervene, but Sam just gets meaner, until finally they give little Ben a box of his own, and then things mellow out. Sam, who had exhausted the possibilities of solo play, decides to let Ben play make-believe with him, after all, and the two have a great time blasting off to the moon and back in their brown cardboard space ships. A realistic look at "parallel play" and how kids often have a hard time sharing. The way the theme plays out might be a little upsetting to littler kids (or even give them the wrong idea about what message the book is trying to impart...) But for children who are old enough to have a good discussion about sharing with and having empathy for other kids, this is a great book. Good strong narrative, too, just in terms of it engaging and holding reader's attention. Recommended! (A)

"You'll Be Sorry"
Written by Josh Schneider
Illustrated by Josh Schneider
(Clarion, 2007)

Violence, consequences and behavior modification. A girl named Samantha has a little baby brother who see wants to hit... She's been warned not to, of course, but she can't help herself, and she gives him a big (off-camera) wallop, which makes the baby cry and cry and cry and cry. Well, it turns out the adults were right: Samantha is sorry after she hits her brother, although not for the reasons you might imagine. As the tears keep flowing, everything starts to flood -- first the family's house, then their neighborhood, then their entire town. Stuck in a rowboat and unable to go to the park, or the store, or even to school, Samantha has a lot of time to think about what she's done, and she decides that making all those tears flow might not have been such a great idea after all. She says she's sorry, and later, when she's tempted not to hit, but to pinch her brother at the end of the book, she holds herself back. Yay, character growth! The casual violence that starts the story might be alarming to many parents, but Schneider's over-the-top, tall-tale outcome is pretty funny, and since he makes his point through humor, rather than a lecture, the message comes through in a nice way. Worth checking out if hitting (especially hitting a sibling) is an issue. (C+)

"Baby On The Way"
Written by Martha Sears, William Sears & Christie Watts Kelly
Illustrated by Renee Adriani
(Little, Brown, 2001)


"What Baby Needs"
Written by Martha Sears, William Sears & Christie Watts Kelly
Illustrated by Renee Adriani
(Little, Brown, 2001)


"Toby's New Brother"
Written by Cyndy Szekeres
Illustrated by Cyndy Szekeres
(Little, Simon, 2000)

Part of a series of books featuring Toby the mouse. Here a young boy feels neglected and forgotten when a new infant enters the household. Later he is comforted by the thought that there are lots of things that "big brothers can do," things that can be fun and make him feel like he's helping out, and so he becomes more willing to accept the new addition to the family. Not much dramatic ooompf to this one, but it's okay. (B-)

Written by Charlotte Voake
Illustrated by Charlotte Voake
(Candlewick, 1997)

A delightful, if painfully accurate, story about two housepets who don't get along (which could be seen as a parable about sibling rivalry...) Ginger is the older and more established cat of the house, and he is terribly put out when his human -- a sweet little girl -- brings home a rambunctious, new little kitten. After the kitten raids Ginger's food and crowds him in his basket bed, the older cat leaves home in protest. The little girl finds Ginger huddled outside, and figures out how to resolve the problem (by giving the kitten his own food and bed) and the two cats wind up being friends after all. Nice text and illustrations, easy to follow and discuss. Recommended! (B+)

"When The Teddy Bears Came"
Written by Martin Waddell
Illustrated by Penny Dale
(Candlewick, 1994)

Another winner from Irish author Martin Waddell, creator of the "Big Bear, Little Bear" books... A warm, simple story of a family flooded with teddy bears when a new baby arrives. An older sibling helps name and organize all the fluffy newcomers and, as a result, grows closer to the infant. A sweet family tale which presents a newly arrived sibling in an entirely positive light... The book doesn't bear a big "message" about sibing rivalry, etc. and as a result is effective just as a fun book that has a long list of teddies to meet and memorize. Not a classic, but a nice, fun read. Good for families that want to explore the idea of a new baby, but who don't want to get all freaked out about it, or generate anxiety around the arrival. Also works as a book for single kids who like books with babies in them, or kids who are into naming things. A very sweet, gentle story in which potential jealousy and rivalry is subsumed in a (literally) warm and fuzzy snugglefest. Nice, realistic artwork that clearly, believably conveys the social interactions and emotions of the various children and adults... Nice book... highly recommended! (A)

"McDuff And The Baby"
Written by Rosemary Wells
Illustrated by Susan Jeffers
(Hyperion, 1997)

Part of the popular "McDuff" series. Our cute little canine friend has a pretty good life with Lucy and Fred, but the applecart is in danger of being upset when -- gasp! -- Lucy has a baby! McDuff is jealous and feels neglected, until the humans figure it out and start giving him more attention and include him in the various family activities. Nice, low-key metaphor for early sibling rivalries, as filtered through the eyes of a cute little doggie. The artwork, as always, is quite nice, and the personalities and relationships between McDuff and his humans are given more texture and detail. This one's a winner! The kind of book that babies and little kids will ask to have read over and over. Recommended. (A)

"Oonga Boonga"
Written by Frieda Wishinsky
Illustrated by Carol Thompson
(Dutton, 1998)

Little baby Louise weeps and wails and can only be calmed down by the silly words her older brother says... Daniel shares the magic words -- "Oonga Boonga! -- with his frazzled family, and then steps outside to play some ball. When he comes back, the baby is crying again, and he makes up a new nonsense phrase that cheers her up. Two sweet messages here that are of use in dealing with newborns -- the power of being silly, and the love that an infant can have for their older sibling... This is a quick read, a slight book, even, but it's thoroughly enjoyable and hits its mark. Worth checking out. (B)

"Betsy's Baby Brother"
Written by Gunilla Wolde
Illustrated by Gunilla Wolde
(Random House, 1975)

A nice, simple story about a little girl grappling with sibling jealousy, while also taking pleasure in helping take care of her infant little brother. Details like breast feeding and daiper changes are presented in a matter-of-fact way, as are Betsy's negative emotions... This book, part of a whole series of "Betsy" stories, is very pretty dated, but the straightforward, honest feel of the story more than makes up for the unflashy graphics and lack of an ironic pop-culture subtext. A good starting place for anyone interested in ways to talk with older sibs about that new addition that's on the way. (B+)

"Grandma's Hurrying Child"
Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Kay Chorao
(Gulliver, 2005)

A fairly straightforward birthing story... A little girl asks her grandmother to tell her -- one more time -- the story of the day she was born. After the mother went into labor, Grandma rushed across three states to get there, and just barely made it in the nick of time. On the way, she knits a little blanket with bunnies on it, which the little girl uses to this day. Somehow, this kind of story doesn't do much for me -- they're often too specific and not universal enough; yes, birthing is magical, but it's also personal, and reading a picturebook that has concrete details about someone else's birth seems uncomfortably close to having to watch their slide show, or being sent a link to their baby webpages. I dunno; I'm sure for some readers, this'd be a real weeper. Didn't do much for me, though. (C+)

"Waiting For Baby"
Written by Harriet Ziefert
Illustrated by Emily Bolam
(Henry Holt & Company, 1999)

A nice book by the amazingly prolific Harriet Ziefert. A young boy named Max is wildly curious about the little one living inside his ever-expanding mother. He asks all kinds of questions and talks to her tummy all the time. When Mom tells Max she thinks the baby is going to come out soon, he gets super-excited and increasingly impatient as each day passes. After about a week, Max gives up and decides to go play by himself -- after which, of course, Mom goes to the hospital and delivers the baby. This book primes future siblings well, cutting through potential anxieties or jealousy, and making the whole process seem like fun. Recommended! (A)

"Talk, Baby!"
Written by Harriet Ziefert
Illustrated by Emily Bolam
(Henry Holt & Company, 1999)

In this follow-up to Waiting For Baby, Max loves his little sister, but is impatient for her to learn to speak. A common situation, no doubt, although the almost-bullying tone of some of Max's attempts to get the baby to talk may be a little more aggressive than some parents would like. Mostly good, although dealing with the same subject, I preferred Fred Haitt's Baby Talk, which has a sweeter tone overall. This one's worth checking out, but you might want to preview it before reading it to that excitable older sibling you have on your hands, just to make sure if it's the right emotional tone you want to explore... (B-)

"If It Weren't For You"
Written by Charlotte Zolotow
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
(Harper Collins, 2006)

An exemplary "issue book" about sibling rivalry, reprised from Zolotow's 1966 original, with new art from the ever-talented G. Brian Karas. A young girl grumbles about all the downsides to having a little sister -- she doesn't get all the presents anymore, she can't watch scary movies, she has to come home and help take care of the baby, rather than play with her friends,etc. All the while, she's got her little sister in tow, and the toddler is so-o-o-o-o-o cute and loving that finally the grumpy, grumbly older sib is worn down and has to cuddle up and care for the little muffin. This book hits every note just right: it's warm, it's funny, it explores negativity without succumbing to it entirely. Definitely recommended... one of the best books in the genre! (A)

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