The Baby Shower, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Judy Love is the sequel to The Wedding, in which a series of animals travel with Miss Brindle Cow to what turns out to be her own wedding. As The Baby Shower begins, Ms. Brindle Cow and her husband are awaiting the birth of their first calf. Upon learning of the imminent event, the other animals join up in a scattered procession to wish Ms. Brindle Cow well. Some bring prayers, some bring presents, and some bring children, but they all bring their good wishes and joy. When they arrive, they find a surprise.
The text is written all in gentle poetry, two rhyming couplets on each page. For example:
"The moon and stars lit up the sky.
Fireflies came dancing by.
They kept repeating to each other,
"Brindle's going to be a mother!"
I think that The Baby Shower would make a good bedtime book, and a nice read-aloud for pre-schoolers. It would also be a lovely introduction to poetry and rhyme for younger children.
Judy Love's illustrations, done in transparent ink on watercolor paper, add considerable delight and humor. The animals in particular are clearly rendered, with expressive features and plenty of detail. In many cases the illustrations reveal a layer of meaning not entirely evident from the text. For instance, Pig is reading to her three piglets, and they report that the book is "the best they'd ever read." We learn from the picture that she's reading them The Three Little Pigs. Of course. On another page, the reverend Duck carries one of the sleeping piglets. He's looking askance at his sleeping burden, as though wondering how on earth he got himself into the situation. It's priceless. Also not to be missed is the page in which Rabbit learns the news of the expected arrival:
"Rabbit said, "I quite remember
I had babies last September.
The first one born was such a blessing,
but more and more can be distressing!"
We see poor Rabbit simply inundated with babies, trying to bottle-feed four at once, while a fifth pleads to be read to (Peter Rabbit, of course), and a slew of others fight, play, and seek attention. Rabbit's face gives new meaning to the word overwhelmed. I think it's worth the price of the book just to see that page.
Underlying the humor, there's a hint of a religious parallel to this title, too. This is especially evident when the animals walk at night, under the stars, and sing about their joy regarding the new arrival. I think it would be interesting to read this title to a young child around Christmas, and see if the child notices the parallel. There's nothing overt, however, and those not wishing to see this parallel should be able to safely ignore it.
Overall, I think that The Baby Shower is bit sentimental. However, the vivid and engaging illustrations keep it from being sappy, and make it a treat for pre-schoolers. This book would also make an excellent baby shower gift (perhaps this idea was anticipated by the publisher - the frontispiece has a built-in "a gift for"... section).
Publication Date: June 1, 2007
Source of Book: A review copy from the publisher
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.