In several new kids’ books, there seems to be as much to teach parents about the arrival of newborns as to teach the generation that will have to get along with each other long after they leave the nest.
The tried-and-true response to a new sibling is to make sure the older kid does not get left out and suffer a permanent bruise that the younger one can touch with just a glimpse.
This approach is still around in books like Michael Sussman’s Otto Grows Down (Sterling, $14.95), which reconciles poor Otto to a new baby sister — only by threatening him with having to get younger and go back to before the baby was born. Scott Magoon’s dark pastel drawings show just how little consolation there is for an older sibling wary of sharing his parents.
An Older Child’s Worries
John Burningham and Helen Oxebury’s There’s Going to Be a Baby (Candlewick, $16.99) focuses on an older child’s worries, which the parent should assuage with tender loving care long before the newborn arrives.
Giving older kids their due, Barney Saltzberg asks all the right questions in Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Baby? (Candlewick, $15.99) to show the uselessness of newborns. He has only a sentimental answer and somewhat crude drawings to fall back on, but it is a tradeoff that comes closer to the real world than unalloyed joy that supposedly arrives with the new bassinet.
A Sister’s Shenanigans
Once parents bring their offspring into the world, they try to help them adjust to each other, but sometimes adults are just bystanders to the shenanigans they get into. Thad Krasnesky’s I Always Get My Way, with sassy, energetic drawings by David Parkins (Flashlight Press, $16. 95), has created in Emmy a challenger to Eloise in the heroine-as-rascally-scamp sweepstakes.
Emmy has two older siblings, making her machinations all the more devilish and mischievous, especially with her impish smile, knowing ways and innocent appeal. When caught and ready to be punished, she tries a final, “Don’t blame me. Did you forget? I’m only three!” The rhymes are smart, the drawings are hilarious and the adventures capture all the frustration a younger kid can visit on her older brother and sister.
Frank Lipsius is a contributing writer to MetroKids