Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered, Baby Brigade (Deborah Diesen)

Overall: 4
  • Content: 5/5
  • Originality: 5/5
  • Language: 3/5
  • Illustrations: 3/5
The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered, Baby Brigade by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Tracy Dockray

Join a crowd of cranky babies as they take to the streets!

The babies turned east at the corner of Main saying, “goo-goo” and “ga-ga” and “Out of our way!”

These babies have had it!

No more mashed peas!

No more bibs!

No more frilly clothes!

Their demands are loud and clear—but are their moms and dads ready to listen?
Children's Literature
Purchase Links:
Hardcover US | UK | DE
Other Links:
author website

This week, we're going with a children's book by Deborah Diesen, author of The Pout-Pout Fish. This book has a different publisher and a different illustrator from the ones she works with for that series, though.

In speaking with the author at a recent book fair, she divulged that this book is almost more for parents than it is for the children, and I have to agree with her assessment. The general idea is that the babies are protesting against all the things that parents typically do, and I had to laugh at a few because of the familiarity of activities like blowing raspberries and playing peek-a-boo. Some of the concepts are newer, such as the games intended to make children "smarter," so I thought that was an appropriate nod to the times that we're living in.

The illustrations in this book remind me of a combination of cartoons, comic books, and manga. The overall result is definitely unique, though it took a while to adjust to the deliberately distorted proportions and sketchy style. Sometimes I felt like the babies were a bit washed out compared to the color-soaked backgrounds, but this effect may have been intentional.

There are places where the rhythm seemed to be a bit off. With a bit of manipulation (and syncopation), one could make it work, though it felt terribly odd reading aloud to my cat. I just couldn't get it to work the same way in my head. The words and sentence structure are simple, in keeping with the target audience, though a few choices (e.g. "frustration") might go right over their heads. Each stanza ends in the titular phrase in the tried-and-true method of repetition that children seem to love. By the the third or fourth round, my tongue stopped getting tangled up in it.

In short, this children's book is one that will strike a chord in parents and keep children entertained. I suggest practicing a bit before reading aloud, to make sure that the beats flow easily. If not, I'm sure that the kiddies won't mind hearing the same story another two or twenty times.


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