Reviews /

New Baby

Authored by Sarah Shaffi & Isabel Otter
Illustrated by Lucy Farfort
Published by Little Tiger

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New Baby is a title in the ‘Our Town’ series from Little Tiger. Beautifully illustrated by Lucy Farfort, a passionate advocate for more diversity in children’s publishing and winner of the inaugural Faber ‘FAB’ prize in 2017.

This title is a refreshingly poignant ‘first experiences’ story which I found very warm and joyful by comparison to other more staid stories about this magical time in a child’s life. Beautifully produced by Little Tiger, the tones, textures and tender scene illustrated on the cover are inviting the reader in, before the book has even been opened. When that cover is turned, the reader is greeted with delightful endpapers displaying an array of photographs, child’s drawings and even a baby scan image!

As the story begins, we are introduced to two very real characters: twins, Bilal and Sofia. They are portrayed as good-hearted, mischievous children who like to have fun and do things children like to do. The innocent understanding of pregnancy is endearing as Bilal shares the news with his friends that,

‘Mummy’s got a bean in her tummy and it’s going to turn into a baby’

and Sofia follows that with a simple press on her ‘tummy button’ the baby will ‘pop out’!

As the months progress Bilal and Sofia’s excitement about their new sibling increases and they make all sorts of promises to share toys and teach them new things. Feelings begin to change however, as the long-suffering mother gets increasingly tired and more reluctant to join in with family playtime. The more difficult elements of welcoming a new member of the family are not ignored but rather treated with sensitivity for the intended audience. The father is portrayed as loving, caring and thoughtful. He reiterates the teamwork needed within a family when such life-changing events present themselves.

Shaffi and Otter relay some important messages through the experiences of the characters in this story. The need for patience, sharing, tolerance, teamwork and pulling together as a family. The most important lesson is saved for the end of the story with the wise words from mother:

‘Sometimes things happen that we can’t control. What we can control is how we react in those tricky moments.’

After the celebratory ending we are treated to more delightful endpapers detailing pictures of the newly extended family enjoying life together. The watercolour illustrations really bring a lot to this story and there are several double page spreads that draw the reader right into the family setting.

New Baby would undoubtedly make a perfect gift for children expecting a new arrival in their family but it also has a worthy place in a Nursery or Reception classroom and would make a delightful read aloud for storytime.

Also available from this wonderful team is ‘Afraid of the Dark’ – another first experience story.