Books to prepare for a new arrival

Books - November 2005


Judy Belanger

When another child is expected in a family, many questions arise about this new arrival. Several of the following books will help children to not only understand the development of the baby, but also what it will mean to have a sibling and how family life will change with the addition of a new member.

WHAT THE NO-GOOD BABY IS GOOD FOR, by Elise Broach, illustrated by Abby Carter, Putnam, $15.99; ages 3 up.

John’s new sister has been around for a few months when he decides it is time to get rid of this no-good baby. She grabs his toys, cries when he wants to watch a movie and he has to be quiet when it is time for her to sleep. Shockingly, Mom agrees the no-good baby should go to Grandma’s house and asks John to help her pack the baby’s clothes. As they pack, she helps John to think differently about the baby—and to see some of her no-good baby activities as positives. When the baby pulls cat’s tail, for example, it makes the cat like John better. John eventually decides the baby will really miss him and maybe she should just visit Grandma for a day so he and Mom can spend the time together. Children sometimes realize all that is needed to fix a problem is a very simple solution—in this case, one day alone with Mom.

BABY ON BOARD, conceived by Kes Gray, illustrated by Sarah Nayler, Simon & Schuster, $15.95; ages 3-7.

This is a fun way for a child to follow along with the development and changes that take place when a new baby is on the way. The book is divided into nine sections and the big sister narrator keeps readers informed of the changes in baby and mother as each month passes. The growth of the baby is compared first with a pea on a plate, then a half stick of gum, then a thumb, all of which make it easier for a small child to understand. The baby is referred to as a "he" throughout the story and is given male names that match the development—such as Pele the month "he" starts kicking. Mom’s discomforts, from morning sickness in the early months to insomnia during the last month, are regularly updated. By the ninth month, the baby is turned and "ready for the launch." After the launch, we discover that Susan would be a better name for the new baby.

BARFBURGER BABY, I WAS HERE FIRST, by Paula Danziger, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, Putnam, $16.99; ages 4-6.

Jonathan wonders: What good are babies? All they do is barf, spit and drool. Not only do Mom and Dad give all their attention to Daniel, but the relatives come and do the same thing. When cousin Charlie comes to visit, he tells Jonathan he felt the same way when the twins were born, but now it isn’t so bad being the big brother.

BIG SISTER, LITTLE SISTER, by LeUyen Pham, Hyperion, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $15.99; ages 4-8.

Which is better—to be the big sister or the little sister? I guess it depends on whom you ask. Big sisters get to do things first, stay up later, use lipstick and get new clothes. Little sister will never be able to do any of these things first, but she will always be better at being the little sister. Pham created this story based on her experiences as being the little sister and the book expresses the warm relationship sisters can have in either position.

DEAR BABY: LETTERS FROM YOUR BIG BROTHER, by Sarah Sullivan, illustrated by Paul Meisel, Candlewick, $14.99; ages 4-8.

With three weeks to go, Mike is all excited about the arrival of the new addition to his family. He starts a scrapbook for the new baby that includes his feelings along with pictures of him in front of their house, his soccer team and Mom just before the baby is born. Erica finally arrives and the book now includes her birth announcement and a picture of the whole family. Mike soon realizes how things have changed and that his new sister is now the center of attention. The book continues for the first year of Erica’s life and ends with the celebration of her first birthday. Mike expresses his many varied feelings about his sister during this year. He finally realizes how much his sister means to him when she gets sick and he saves her from burning herself on a hot iron. Any family putting together a book similar to this will have fond memories to share for many years.

THIS IS THE BABY, by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Maggie Smith, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.50; ages 2-4.

Children often resist being dressed and no matter how many tricks parents play, they can be a challenge to the end. In this cumulative tale in the vein of "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly," Mom struggles to put a diaper, pants, shirt, socks, boots, sweater, jacket and finally a hat on a wiggly child. In less time than it takes Mom to get herself ready to go outside, the baby has all the clothes off and is happily parading through the house. Parents will smile sympathetically at this story and children will have fun with the repetition.

Judy Belanger is a retired elementary learning resource center teacher who lives with her husband in Addison. They have two grown children and four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6 in the school where she taught.


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