Monday, January 3, 2011
Review #81: The Baby Sister
Isaac (age 12): "The Baby Sister" by Tomie dePaola.
Dad: Why did we decide to review this book for Bookie Woogie?
Gracie (age 10): Because we are getting a baby sister! We are! We are!
Lily (age 7): Girls are awesome.
Dad: Now, here's something to notice. What's the name of the boy in the book?
Dad: And who made the book?
Dad: What was the name of his baby sister in the book?
Dad: And look at the book's dedication...
Gracie: "For my sister, Maureen."
Isaac: The book is the story of his life.
Lily: I love it. The story is about a boy who is getting a baby.
Gracie: A boy named Tommy. When his mommy tells him he's getting a baby, he says "Mommy, may I please have a little sister with a red ribbon in her hair?"
Lily: Tommy is waiting and waiting and waiting, excited for the baby.
Isaac: While they are waiting, they had to set up the baby's room. And Tommy drew some pictures for the baby.
Gracie: Then his mom goes away to the hospital.
Lily: Tommy was sad because his mommy was gone.
Dad: Are you going to be sad when your Mommy is at the hospital for a few days? We'll be eating a lot of omelets and oatmeal over here.
Dad: That's all I ever cook.
Isaac: Hopefully Grammy or Nana will be coming.
Gracie: Tommy's mom was home before he knew it. And they are happy.
Lily: Woohoo! Woohoo!
Isaac: And we are going to leave the ending a surprise. I'm not going to tell you if it's a baby boy or girl.
Gracie: It's a girl with a red ribbon in her hair.
Isaac: Hey! You just ruined it!
Dad: Ruined the whole story... because it's called "The Baby Sister."
Isaac: It is? Oh! Ho! Dear.
Dad: I think Tomie dePaola gave away the end of the story.
Isaac: Bad Tomie dePaola.
Dad: Not that long ago, people had to wait until their babies were born to find out if they were boys or girls.
Isaac: Did you know what I was going to be?
Dad: Yep. The only kid we didn't know about was Gracie. In the ultrasound she was sitting cross-legged like a stubborn little lump and wouldn't move for anything.
Gracie: Even before I came out, I was a stinker.
Isaac: What did Tomie dePaola use for the art? Watercolor?
Dad: I think so. It's definitely a transparent paint of some kind. Not opaque.
Dad: That's a good word to learn.
Isaac: Opaque. Opaque.
Dad: You know what "transparent" means...
Dad: Yep. With transparent paint, if you laid down yellow paint on top of dry blue, it would turn green. You'd see through the yellow and the colors would mix together.
Gracie: The paints in this book are transparent.
Dad: But with opaque paint, if you put yellow over blue, it would just look like yellow paint sitting on top of blue paint. You wouldn't see through.
Isaac: Opaque. Opaque. Opaque.
Dad: Let me tell you what I love about this particular book. Now, there are lots of books about new babies coming...
Isaac: There are?
Dad: Yeah - you might not know that because we don't get many. Most books about new babies have kids saying things like, "I don't want a new baby! Mommy doesn't have time for me anymore! I'm going to run away! I'm going to give the baby away to a zoo! I wanted a brother, but I got a sister!"
Gracie: I don't like those books.
Dad: I would bet if you randomly picked 10 books about new babies, 9 out of the 10 would be about upset older siblings. Or maybe even all 10 out of a random selection.
Isaac: Not if this one was one of the 10.
Dad: Right. It's very rare that you find books with kids who are happy about new babies coming. So, what about you guys? When new babies come to our house -- and that's happened quite a few times...
Isaac: Especially for me.
Dad: Are you guys ever upset about a new baby coming?
Gracie: No way!
Dad: See, so I would never want to put ideas in your head otherwise. I like this one because it presents it pleasantly.
Isaac: Look - that baby in the book has enough hair to have a pigtail already.
Gracie: How does a newborn baby have so much hair? Our sister Evie is still pretty bald.
Dad: Yeah, the baby in the book has more hair than Evie has grown in 3 years!
Lily: I want our new baby to have a blue ribbon in her hair.
Isaac: She might have even less hair. It keeps going lower and lower with each kid.
Lily: But what if she's the one with the most hair? It's possible.
Dad: Watch her come out like a furry beast.
Gracie: Ha hah!
Dad: So, tell everyone what we've been calling our baby while she's inside...
Dad: And how do you guys feel about baby Puggle coming?
Lily: Excited, even though the baby is probably going to be crying a lot.
Gracie: I'm pretty excited. I get to hold the little... thing. The little person. Little tiny person.
Dad: So Isaac, this is old hat for you. This is the fifth sibling you've watched come along. You could probably write a book yourself about all this.
Isaac: Very easily.
Dad: Which is the first baby you can remember? How far back?
Gracie: When Lily came, you made us all wear gas masks.
Dad: Not gas masks. Hospital masks. Because you and Isaac were horribly sick.
Lily: This is a good book for people who are getting a baby. It helps you learn about getting a baby.
Dad: Is there anything in this book that reminds you of our experience with Puggle so far?
Gracie: I felt the baby move.
Isaac: I didn't get to feel that until two days ago. She was a stinker. Whenever Mom said "Everybody come -- she's moving!" ...by the time I put my hand on her, she'd stop.
Dad: Is there anything you can do to help get ready like Tommy did?
Isaac: Building the crib with Dad. Right Dad?
Gracie: And we can draw pictures for the baby.
Dad: Last thing: What should we name this baby?
Lily: We are having a girl.
Dad: So should we name our baby Maureen like in the book?
Gracie: Let's name it Olive.
Dad: We've been discussing the same few names for months now...
Gracie: Zion, Sparrow, and Olive.
Gracie: No, Olive.
Dad: Well, Olive is a choice too. Olivet, Olive, Sparrow, and Zion. Everybody tell me what your vote is.
Lily: I want it to be Sparrowwwwwww!
Dad: Why do you like Sparrow?
Lily: Because it comes from the same kind of Bible verses that have "Lily" in them.
Gracie: Then you guys would be buddies. But I like Olive.
Isaac: I like Zion. But that one got eliminated already.
Dad: Not necessarily. Why do you like that one?
Isaac: It's just a cool name. Zion Zenz.
Dad: I know!! I love it!
Isaac: Zion Zenz!
Dad: People get all weirded out by the Z's, but I love it precisely because of the multiple Z's. No one flips out about "Julie Jaeger." Or "Eric Emmons." Why are Z's any different?
Lily: But why would you name a baby girl Zion?
Gracie: I think it's a boy name.
Dad: Last year's Caldecott winner "Lion and the Mouse" is dedicated to his "great-granddaughter Zion Noel."
Lily: (singing) The lion and the mouse - is about a mouse - who got trapped by a lion...
Dad: So it even has some literary connection. Faint connection.
Gracie: I vote for Olive.
Dad: And my favorite is Olivet. So we have a four way tie!
Gracie: If we name it Olivet, I'm calling it Olive. Mom likes Olive.
Dad: Actually, Mom just threw another name into the mix. Just yesterday.
Dad: The new one she's thinking about is Magdalene.
Isaac: I like it. I like Zion better, but Magdalene is a good name. I really really like all of the choices.
(little brother Elijah walks over)
Dad: Hey! Elijah is the tie breaker! Mom wants "Magdalene," I want "Olivet," Gracie wants "Olive," Lily wants "Sparrow," and Isaac wants "Zion." So...
Gracie: Which one?!
Dad: You get to break the tie! What's it going to be?
Lily: Sparrow, Sparrow, Sparrow...
Gracie: Olive, Olive!
Isaac: Zion Zenz!
Dad: Elijah, break the tie for us...
Tense silence, and then:
Elijah (age 5): Sparrovet!
Dad: Sparrovet? Oh dear.
Dad: Alright... Well, I guess we'll find out soon!
Author/Illustrator: Tomie dePaola
Published, 1996: Putnam
Like it? Here it is
Update: We recorded this review back in November. One month later, on December 25, 2010 (yes, Christmas afternoon!) the lovely Magdalena Bell Zenz wiggled her way into our arms! Welcome to the world Magdalena!