My First Day
My First Day
Robin Page, illus. by Steve Jenkins
ISBN 9780547738512
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
5 stars
Keywords: animals families my-first-day nature robin-page separation-anxiety

My First Day
by Robin Page, illus. by Steve Jenkins

The husband-and-wife team behind the Caldecott Honor book What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? once again makes science accessible to youngest readers.

Here they correlate a baby's first day ("you opened your eyes, cried, slept, and drank some milk") with that of many other creatures in nature. Steve Jenkins's signature collage illustrations show a kiwi on its own ("as soon as I hatched, I was ready to take care of myself"), opposite a Siberian tiger licking her kitten clean. "I was born high above the ground--and I landed in a heap. But I wasn't hurt...," says the giraffe. Endnotes explain that when a mother giraffe gives birth, "her baby tucks its head between its front legs and falls five feet"; the calf, uninjured, walks within minutes.

With these endnotes, Jenkins and Page give curious readers additional details without interrupting the flow of the informational narrative. The text sticks to the facts while also offering reassurance to youngest children, as with the image of a baby zebra and its mother, who memorizes her baby's stripes: "If I wandered off, she could find me, even among the thousands of zebras in my herd." The emperor penguin proves that fathers play a role, too: "I climbed out of my egg, stood on my father's feet, and snuggled into his feathers to warm."

The variety of habitats and locales, along with the diverse ways animals enter the world and care for their young, will keep children enthralled, and likely lead them to further exploration. This first book of nature for youngest readers doubles as a soothing antidote to separation anxiety.

This review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers.
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