How to Welcome a New Baby by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish. Alfred A. Knopf, 2022. 9780593430606
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Format: Hardcover picture book
What did you like about the book? In this follow-up to their earlier book, How to Babysit a Grandpa, Reagan and Wildish return to their successful advice manual format. An unnamed child (about 4) helps get things ready for a new baby and cares for the new sibling once they arrive. Using a second-person instructional tone, the narrator drops helpful tips, such as “Your pets might feel left out, so give them extra hugs” and “Remind your friends, NO party food for the baby.” Colorful and very literal cartoon illustrations contain lots of familiar objects and future “big” siblings will enjoy identifying all the recognizable equipment that’s popping up around their homes: a crib, a carseat, diapers, baby bottles, and teething rings. The new baby does seem like a lot of work, with the grandparents pitching in, parents looking exhausted, and the house a complete disaster. But the child also gets to look forward to the end of the book, when they’ll have a toddler who can play and welcome them home from school.
I liked that the family was biracial, with a Black mom, a White dad, and kids with two different shades of lighter brown skin. There’s also a Black grandpa (who presumably appeared in the first book) and a White grandma. Another interesting aspect was that the two children have no named or observed gender identification and could be read as he, she, or they. And we never see the mom as visibly pregnant before Baby’s arrival, so families adopting babies could also make the narrative work for them. In a timely detail, the family’s entry way even includes a box of facemasks.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The big kid describes the arrival of the new baby as 100% positive. I think it would have been more realistic to show them occasionally feeling neglected or experiencing even a slight twinge of jealousy.
To whom would you recommend this book? This would be an easy and light-hearted book to offer families expecting or adopting a new baby. The simple language and warm-hearted images will make this a cozy and satisfying read.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Either in picture books or in a parenting section
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: May 10, 2022