Books are one of my favorite gifts, for any age. But I learned from BabyShrink's Biggest Fan that it's no good to give a book without thoroughly reading it first, to make sure it's just right for the intended recipient. My mother sits for hours in bookstores, pouring through childrens' books, and has come up with some fantastic specimens. I'll feature a couple of those tomorrow. But I have a real bone to pick with authors of books meant for babies -- many of these are just poorly written, with no appreciation for a baby's developmental level. A really egregious example is the series of books I saw the other day at one of the big-box stores. Upon first glance, the pictures were cute, colorful and fun. I think most parents (or grandparents) end their evaluation of the book right there. But if you look closer, you see that the storyline is confusing, there are a couple of parts that would be scary to toddlers and preschoolers, and the actual SIZE of the board book was enormous. Note to baby book publishers: Stop producing those giant board books that no baby could ever hold by themselves! Those things are real hazards. Have you ever tried reading one of those behemoths to a fidgety baby? They grab the pages and try valiantly to turn them, but the sheer bulk of the giant cardboard pages is enough to give the little one a black eye. Come on, let's see some books that are created with actual babies in mind!
So I'm thrilled with my latest discovery, No No Yes Yes, by Leslie Patricelli. It's a simple, hilarious look at the dilemmas experienced several times a day by babies and toddlers learning the rules and limits of life. Most baby books simply have too many words to be appropriate for such young minds.
Patricelli understands that just a few words -- two, to be exact -- plus simple and straightforward illustrations -- are all that's necessary to convey a world of meaning to a little one. I love that she understands the challenge of this age; to learn to control oneself, given the zillion rules imposed by parents. She's truly speaking to her audience here, and in the process is already gaining an appreciative following. Our two-year-old is a case in point. He laughs hysterically every time he gets to the page where the baby puts a bunch of toys in the potty. He's simultaneously thrilled with the central character's daring, yet also mortified as to what the consequences might be. The book gets read several times a day around here -- and nobody has a black eye from shlepping around a book the size of briefcase!
Please check out Patricelli's book -- and she has several other cute ones I'm looking forward to reading.
Do you have any good baby book recommendations?