As I mentioned in a long-ago post on the excellent book Baby Brother, it’s weirdly hard to find good books on welcoming new babies into the family. It’s weirdly easy, though, to find books that do a wonderful job of revealing to children that having a new sibling is going to be a huge pain in the ass. Call me delusional, but I’ve been trying to focus on the former.
Which led to yet another rediscovery of an old favorite: The Very Little Girl, by Phyllis Krasilovsky, and beautifully illustrated by the mysteriously one-named Ninon. I even like their names beside one another. I picture a kindly old librarian and a swarthy magician, working together in a 1950s garret somewhere, and have refrained from googling them in order to avoid disabusing myself of this notion. Anyway, this (now out-of-print) book was given to me by my aunt and uncle in August of 1982. I can’t imagine why. Coincidentally, my brother was born in August of 1982. Weird, right?
I’m pleased to find that Harper is fascinated by this book. The pink and green illustrations are so very sweet, and I’ve always loved this tiny little girl and her quest to, well, grow a bit bigger. Heck, I can relate. Well not these days actually. I seem to be growing plenty, thank you very much. But as a little girl I was, you know, little, and I remember this being an oddly significant part of my identity.
So — SPOILER ALERT — at the end of the book, the girl manages to grow. She can now reach more stuff.
WAIT FOR IT
The first time we read this book after we found out that Harper’s predictions of “Boy Bruddah” were, eerily, correct, I literally cried. I know, hormones, right? But it’s just so sweet. First of all, I have a strange predilection for picture books in which no grownups or parents appear. And in this little world, there are just cute tiny pieces of furniture, rose bushes, friendly animals and the like. Mostly, I love the little girl sweetly feeding her brother at the end. Harper loves this image too. Part of her preparations for the new baby have been rigorous feeding sessions with her baby dolls (they enjoy milk, juice, hot tea, star soup, and a felt leek that Harper calls “ice cream cone”). She points to this last page and says, in a high squeaky voice, “Leetle leetle leetle leetle baby.”
Also, check out that baby’s fat little stomach. Cute.
By the way: for those in our position, I’ve found two other “new baby” books that both I and Harper like. The matter-of-fact and upbeat I’m a Big Sister Now, by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Rosalinda Keightly (there’s an older version with much less cute illustrations — beware!) is really lovely, and Harper can recite a slightly garbled version by heart if you want to save some book-buying money and just ask her instead. There’s a boy version too for big brothers. And Mercer Mayer’s The New Baby is pretty good too.
As Harper now demands we say at the end of every book, whether it says so or not: