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The Picture Book Buzz

Pass the Baby - The Perfect Picture Book Buzz

First things first, the lucky winners of Charles Santoso's Special Limited Print of three elephants are:

Photo of Charles Santoso (bottome left) and the special edition print of  a mother and two young elephants standing side-by-side.

Laura Roettiger

&

Danielle Hammelef


Congratulations to both of you!


Now, I'd like to share this week's #PPBF choice. It's sneak peek at a beautifully rhyming book with a wonderful 'chorus' refrain which will have kids chanting along. This joyful celebration of shared meals, young kids, and family is a super delightful read aloud and will elicit smiles from all ages. Be sure to watch for the book on October 17th.

Book cover - happy parents with arms raised as a baby floats between them.

Pass The Baby


Author: Susanna Reich


Illustrator: Raúl Colón


Publisher: Neal Porter/ Holiday House (2023)


Ages: 4-8


Fiction


Themes:

Family, mealtimes, babies, diversity, and humor.


Synopsis:

A delightful meal with a big extended family becomes a free-for-all when one particularly excitable baby joins the fun.


What does it take to make a perfect family meal? Is it the forks, spoons, plates, and napkins? Maybe it’s sister’s lemonade, Papi’s guacamole, or delicious meatballs and ravioli eyed by a hungry pup. When it’s time to sit down and dig in, there’s one thing everybody agrees they need to do, “Baby, baby, pass the baby!”


This rollicking, rhyming picture book about one (rather large) diverse family dinner table captures the buzz and hum of a shared meal, with one adorably excitable baby at its center, eager to join the fun. With Pass the Baby, author Susanna Reich imbues her text with an undercurrent of harmony, warmth and inclusivity, complimented by ebullient illustrations by Raúl Colón.


Opening Lines:

Family dinner, set the table,

Forks and spoons and napkins too,

Knives and plates and water glasses,

Flowers, placemats, white and blue.

Wait a minute, where’s the baby?

Someone’s playing peek-a-boo!


What I LOVED about this book:

This rhyming picture book has a slightly more unusual pattern in its fun, bouncy, six-line stanzas with every other line rhyming (a ABCBDB pattern). After the table's set and the family begins to gather, we discover a wonderful 4-line "chorus" refrain - "Baby, baby, pass the baby!/ Baby wants a little bite./ Pass the baby round the table,/ filled with faces shining bright." Artist extraordinaire, Raúl Colón's, gorgeously soft-toned and expressive illustrations beautifully capture this loving family gathering and the very active & occasionally fussy baby.

Internal spread - on left sun setting behind a house. On the right a baby is laughingly floating above the hands of five adults and an older brother.

Text © Susanna Reich, 2023. Image © Raúl Colón, 2023.


I love how Susanna Reich's six-line stanzas lend themselves so perfectly to panels highlighting the individual family member's contributions to the meal. The way the text and illustration effortlessly portray the interracial diversity of the family through their names (Papi), food (enchiladas, meatballs, & ravioli), and images. A wonderfully blended family and meal. And did you notice the darling star marking round the dog's eye? I adore the dog's antics in following the baby around the table and gobbling any food it finds - leaving the reader to decide if its clean-up crew or thief.

Internal spread - in left-side panels, Grandma, Dad, and Mom are preparing dishes. On the right doggie watches sister hold the baby on her lap.

Text © Susanna Reich, 2023. Image © Raúl Colón, 2023.


Grandma sets out special dishes:

pickles, olives, black-eyed peas.

Papi's making guacamole,

Mommy's busy grating cheese.

Baby wants a little laptime.

Hold her tight but do not squeeze.


As happens to many dinners with young kids they are not only the center of attention, but things get messier and messier. This one is no exception. And the family seems generally unfazed and maybe even bemused by baby's actions, until she spills coffee on Grandma's fancy dress.

Internal spread - baby stacking pies, cake, and cookies into a tumbling tower of treats, as Mom, Tio &  Grandma watch and doggie sneaks a snack.

Text © Susanna Reich, 2023. Image © Raúl Colón, 2023.


Like most stories for young kids, this book segways into bedtime and the refrain changes to "Pass the baby round the table,/ 'til it's time to say goodnight." Except this book comes with a funny twist and a great spin on the refrain. The final spreads are delightful, realistic, and funny. Kids will find the ending very satisfying. It's a joyful, loving celebration of family and a super fun read aloud. A great gift for grandparents, new parents, and anyone who loves poetry.


Resources:

Photo of two origami dogs facing each other.

- make your own 'star-eyed' or uniquely pattered easy origami dog.


- what's the biggest family dinner you've been too? What are your favorite family dishes?


- draw a picture or write a story about the wildest family meal you can imagine.


If you missed the interview with Susanna Reich & Raúl Colón on Monday, find it (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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