There's Going to Be a Baby
There's Going to Be a Baby
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John Burningham , illus. by Helen Oxenbury
ISBN 9780763649074
Candlewick, 2010.
5 stars
Keywords: family going-to-be-a-baby humor john-burningham new-baby pregnancy sibling

There's Going to Be a Baby
by John Burningham , illus. by Helen Oxenbury

If Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes is the book for newborns, then There’s Going to Be a Baby, also illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, is the book to give to every child who is expecting a new baby brother or sister.

The story opens as a mother tells her preschooler boy, “There’s going to be a baby.” The boy’s expression seems neutral, but the cat looks alarmed. “When is the baby going to come?” he asks. “The baby will arrive when it’s ready, in the fall, when the leaves are turning brown,” she answers. As mother and child go about their routine, the events spur the mother’s suggestions of what the baby might be when he or she grows up. Each time, the boy imagines the situation literally. So, while a meal in a neighborhood restaurant inspires the mother to imagine the baby as a chef one day, the boy pictures an infant in an apron and chef’s hat spilling eggs and flipping pancakes willy-nilly: “I don’t think I’d eat anything that was made by the baby,” he says. Days go by, the mother’s profile grows, and flowers bloom. The boy senses that the baby’s arrival is drawing near. “When is the baby coming, Mommy? I want to see the baby.” And then, in a brilliant shift, the next scene depicts the boy traveling on the bus with his Grandad to see the baby. He reviews all of the possibilities he had explored with his mommy (“Maybe it will be Susan or Peter. Maybe it will be good at cooking…”). The focus remains completely on the boy hero: “Grandad, the baby will be our baby. We’re going to love the baby, aren’t we?” The boy comes around to the idea of being a big brother in his own good time.

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