~ Junior Library Guild selection ~
~ 2018 Texas Topaz Nonfiction Gem ~
~ Bank Street Best Book of the Year ~
READY, SET. . . BABY!
Anna and Oliver, big siblings extraordinaire, are here to tell you all about what to expect when your family is expecting—and what life will really be like once a new baby arrives. The dynamic duo cover everything from naptime to stinky diapers and from holding the baby to deciphering your baby’s body language. They even offer up helpful ideas for parents on how to make life as a big brother or sister as filled with fun—and love—as it can be!
So, get ready…get set…time to welcome a new baby!
Illustrations by Qin Leng
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Year Published: February 7, 2017
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
“Lighthearted and funny, this is an ideal book to share with soon-to-be big brothers and sisters.”
Anna and Oliver take readers on a whirlwind tour of life with a brand-new baby in the house. With a conversational style, the siblings address readers directly, offering information and advice based on their own experiences: “Lots of people are probably telling you what to expect, but kids in the know can give you the real deal.” Anna, the older of the pair, imparts simple facts such as, “Moms have a special compartment inside for growing babies.” Oliver, the younger sibling, expresses common emotions including wonder and boredom. While waiting for the baby to arrive, he thinks, “This is worse than waiting for pizza to be delivered.” The big brother and sister present useful guidance on everything from how to hold a newborn (sit down, cradle its head, speak softly) to diaper changes (it’s not that bad) to accepting that infants are not yet equipped to play (“playing with a new baby is like playing with a loaf of bread.”). The content centers on what happens after the baby comes home; the author doesn’t discuss how the baby gets into Mom’s “special compartment.” Leng’s vignette-style cartoons add humor and capture the family’s wide range of facial expressions, body language, and feelings—from anxious anticipation to quiet surprise. Speech bubbles break up the text and highlight some of the siblings’ more personal reactions (“WHAT IS THAT?” Oliver asks while pointing to the baby’s “little black stump” of an umbilical cord). Back matter steers interested children and caregivers to additional material, including websites and books such as Robie H. Harris’s What’s in There: All About Before You Were Born. There are even tips for parents on how to help a child adjust to a new sibling. VERDICT Lighthearted and funny, this is an ideal book to share with soon-to-be big brothers and sisters. — Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal
THE HORN BOOK
“A twofer. It not only sets the scene for kids expecting a new sibling but also clues in grownups.”
Expecting a new baby in the family? Then take note: “Lots of people are probably telling you what to expect, but kids in the know can give you the real deal.” So reads an introductory note from siblings Anna and Oliver, our young tour guides through expecting and then living with a new baby. Anna and Oliver, who appear to be about eight and six, don’t sound especially childlike, but if they did, they might not be such effective dispensers of sound advice. Short chapters, featuring homey cartoonish illustrations with lots of dialogue balloon asides, include “Meet the Conehead,” “The Real Scoop on Baby Poop” (“We were NOT prepared for how many times a day our baby would need a diaper change”), and “Play- ing—Not!” which makes short work of the notion that babies can be satisfying playmates from day one. The book is just right for those not yet ready for Robie H. Harris’s It’s So Amazing! (rev. 1/00) and that ilk, but it’s really a twofer. It not only sets the scene for kids expecting a new sibling but also clues in grownups: the back matter includes “Tips for Parents on Life with Big Kids and New Babies” because, as Oliver explains to readers, “we thought your parents might need some advice about the best way to handle all this stuff too.” A bibliography of books and websites is also appended. — Nell Beram
“Expect older kids to go gaga over this informative little guide.”
What to expect when mommy's done expecting. While the bulk of new-baby books zero in on the infant in utero, Rusch's informs siblings about what goes down after the arrival. Narrating from their own experience, light-skinned siblings Anna and Oliver provide a practical guide to everything a new sibling will need to know about the baby. Whether it's the baby's initial appearance ("red, wrinkly skin with little bumps all over her face"), its limited mobility and facial expressions, or umbilical stumps, Rusch keeps the tone lighthearted and original (no small matter in a market glutted with new-baby fare). The kids' narration works as a purely practical template for kids curious about how their lives will change. Backmatter includes bibliographies and tips for parents on how best to meet the needs of those children that feel jealous of the baby. In keeping with the book's humor and general good cheer, Leng's spirited watercolors bring both the chaos and the charm of babies to vibrant life. Occasional missteps, as when the book fails to clearly distinguish between a mother's internal "baby compartment" and "where ice cream and bananas and yogurt go," do not diminish the book's worth as a whole. Expect older kids to go gaga over this informative little guide. (Picture book. 4-7)
Youth Services Book Review ★★★★★
“A must-have book”
This is a must-have book for parents who are going to bring a new baby into an already established family with older siblings. Anna and Oliver are two children who appear to be about 4 and 6 years old. This book is a manual told from their perspective of the whole process of having a baby from the time mom is pregnant until the baby becomes a part of the family. I especially liked how there are two resource pages at the end of the book for the new parents with tips, websites and books on life with big kids and new babies. The entire book is child-centered and attempts to allay fears of older children when they are shocked by the sight of the umbilical cord or are freaked out by the baby spitting up on them. It is comprehensive and fun and makes the older children feel included in the whole process of raising this child.
“A baby with older siblings as enlightened as Anna and Oliver is one lucky baby.”
In this lighthearted guide, young siblings Anna and Oliver offer advice and walk readers through common experiences when a new baby is on its way and then joins the family. First, after a flurry of excitement, there’s “The Big Wait"; a whole day passes and then more. When “The Big Day!” arrives, there’s more waiting, until Mom and the baby finally come home from the hospital. In a playful manner, Anna and Oliver share information about activities that will take place (for example, the colossal amount of “poop” involved, and the adoration the baby will receive) and offer tidbits of advice on how to deal with each. Back matter includes a list of kid-friendly resources and “Big Kid Approved” tips to help parents achieve a smooth transition when the little one arrives. Softly colored, jaunty cartoon drawings with dialogue bubbles match the cheery tone of the text. A baby with older siblings as enlightened as Anna and Oliver is one lucky baby. — Randall Enos
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Rusch brings new energy to the topic with this frank, funny, and helpful guide”
Books about the arrival of a new sibling are a dime a dozen, but Rusch brings new energy to the topic with this frank, funny, and helpful guide to coexisting with a baby. After a fairly standard intro about Mom’s pregnancy, our protagonists, Anna and Oliver, describe the experience in both main text and speech balloons. There’s helping Dad with diaper changes (“It’s like being the copilot, handing stuff like wipes, washcloths, and these funny T-shirts called onesies”), the truth about the entertainment value of a new baby (“Playing with a new baby is like playing with a loaf of bread”), and a helpful list of “What to Do While Everyone Stares at the Baby.” Ultimately there’s a blend of genuinely useful tips and good humor, in a sympathetic but matter-of-fact approach that doesn’t overpromise on the love or exaggerate the disruption. Airy backgrounds balance out casual, sometimes plausibly frenetic line and watercolor art; the palette is on the pale side, but there’s still plenty of energy in the amiably rumpled scenes. Use this with Solheim’s Born Yesterday for a humorous contrast in perspective that also provides insight about this complicated new member of the family. End matter includes some helpful websites as well as additional books, plus some “Big Kid Approved” tips for parents.
“Anna and Oliver star in the book’s many vignettes and address readers directly (think House of Cards without the menace), providing frank, this-too-shall-pass answers that reflect the realities of living with a newborn.”
Rusch (Electrical Wizard) and Leng (A Family Is a Family Is a Family) assuage readers’ anxieties about new arrivals by channeling their advice through two elementary-school-age siblings who have just welcomed a baby to their house. Anna and Oliver star in the book’s many vignettes and address readers directly (think House of Cards without the menace), providing frank, this-too-shall-pass answers that reflect the realities of living with a newborn and their own sibling solidarity (displacement issues are barely addressed, even though Anna, who seems older than Oliver, must have felt them when he came along). Several pages are devoted to poop (“We were not prepared for how many times a day our baby would need a diaper change”), and the siblings note that—contrary to what well-meaning adults assert—babies are hardly new playmates. “Playing with a new baby is like playing with a loaf of bread,” Anna says. Leng’s matter-of-fact, well-observed cartooning, reminiscent of classic family magazines, underscores the book’s levelheaded, soothing message: you got this. Ages 4–7.
“This gem of a book provides exactly what expecting parents and growing families need."
Ready, Set…Baby offers a fun and informative story that is both emotionally and artfully captivating as it realistically explores ways parents can help younger siblings prepare for and then live with the arrival of a new baby. Filled with real-life vignettes, this gem of a book provides exactly what expecting parents and growing families need as a child-friendly narrative they can joyfully read together to help with this important transition in their ongoing development. You’ll laugh, cry, and learn a ton. Enjoy!
— Author Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.