March 23, 2012

Baby! Baby!

Baby! Baby!
By Vicky Ceelen; photos by author
No Author Site
0-2 Random House 24 pp.
978-0-375-84207-8 Board Book $6.99

It's often said that babies love to look at other at babies. Put any 8 month old in front of a mirror and the giggling, waving smile-fest that results will prove this saying true. Because of this, publishers have put out a lot of baby-picture board books - so many, in fact, that there is probably one for every parent's and every baby's preference. The sheer glut can make it difficult for an individual title to stand out, which is why Baby! Baby! is such a lovely contribution to a crowded field.

Though the title is slightly misleading, Vicky Ceelen's book features well-chosen animal / baby pairings, some of which are fairly uncanny (the baby / lion cub pairing and the baby / rabbit pairing especially stand out). There are no words and no labels. The pictures stand on their own, with the baby occupying one page and the animal occupying the page opposite. While it's tempting to wish that the animals were labeled or identified, (there's a nameless marsupial that I'm particularly curious about), the wordless quality of the book works in it's favor. The pictures stand out boldly on bright, single-color backgrounds without words competing for the focus of young, baby eyes. As they grow, toddlers can then enjoy flipping through the familiar pages to name the animals on their own.

Unlike a lot of "baby" books, Baby! Baby! grows with a child. It might start out as a simple way for a baby to engage other baby faces, but it becomes a great introduction to animals, colors, shapes and similarities. Though not all of the animals pictured are babies, the concept holds together strongly enough that it doesn't really matter. An altogether good little book that attends to multiple areas of early development while appealing to little ones from baby to toddler-hood.

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