Thursday 13 November 2014

Grandma, the Baby and Me

Grandma, the Baby and Me by Emma Allen, illustrated by Hannah Sommerville (Omnibus Books)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-1-86291-873-3
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

The day the baby came home Grandma winked and said, ‘Here’s trouble.’
Henry is having trouble adjusting to having a new baby in the house. Things are not quite the same. Routines are altered, mum’s attention is divided and even his big sister is giving the baby all her focus and kisses. If only Grandma would come back and make things better.

This is a gentle story about the change in family dynamics when a new baby arrives and it is told with such skill and simplicity. ‘...and the baby yelled until bathtime. In the bath, I yelled too.’ And although Henry’s yell is a happy one, Mum tells Henry to stop splashing and cradles the baby.
The lovely and realistic relationships are portrayed well through the text and also beautifully through the expressive illustrations. There is so much in every picture. There is the family dog, appearing on most pages with his ball, just hoping someone will throw it for him, especially Henry who completely ignores him.
There is a dinosaur theme which runs strongly throughout the story, and my favourite page is one which I think every mother could relate to: At bedtime it rained, the baby screamed, and Mum cried, ‘Oh! The washing!’ The family are standing in the kitchen. Mum is holding the baby with the phone wedged between her shoulder and ear while clearing the dinner dishes. Henry is in his bath towel tugging on her shirt and Josie is trying to give her a cupcake. Dad is washing dishes looking forlornly at the rain and the dog is licking up spilt milk under the table.
This is a lovely story about love, family and adjustment and how much a simple squeeze of Grandma’s hand can help a situation. It would be a great book for any young child, particularly those who are expecting, or experiencing a new sibling themselves.

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