Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Our Baby

Our Baby by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Karen Blair (Working Title Press) HB RRP $24
ISBN 9781921504

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Both the author and illustrator of this new picture book for very young children are award-winning. The reasons for this are once again demonstrated in their exceptional craft in Our Baby. The text starts with ‘Some babies have a mum and a dad’ and proceeds to relate the different kinds of families babies are born into. Then there are the types of babies there are (some with … ‘snotty noses, tiny shrimp toes, tufty hair, dandelion hair, gummy smile, or one tooth.’) We read about the lives of babies, what they do, where they go, what they like, how they behave. The narrator is a baby’s young sister whose parents are bi-racial – mum white-skinned, dad dark-skinned. At the end of the story they curl up – mum, dad, baby and sister – in bed. ‘We are lucky, lucky, lucky to have our baby!’ declares sister on the last page.

Thus the book is an ode to having a baby in the family, whatever kind of family one has. Wild has a gift for language, with the words of this book tripping along lightly, making obvious the joys of being a baby and having a baby. Her simple sentences and joyfulness is complimented by Blair’s delicate and engaging watercolour illustrations set in lots of white background. We see a baby wrapped in a dad’s arm while Dad drinks coffee in a café and baby drops crumbs to pigeons at his feet. In another illustration, the little narrator’s dad reads a book to baby while sister sits at a school desk, also reading. Then there are babies rolling, dancing, crawling and bouncing; babies playing, ‘dropping things in the toilet, or building a tower of bricks.’

Yes, the best word to describe this book is ‘joy.’ The story can – and should – be read over and over again, the lively and amusing pictures looked at frequently, too. This lovely book is sure to be a hit with parents who have small children and babies. And with pre-schoolers whose teachers share the book with them.

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