The Baby (But I'd Have Liked a Hamster) by India Knight and Jessica Meserve
|The Baby (But I'd Have Liked a Hamster) by India Knight and Jessica Meserve|
|Genre: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A delightful story and wonderful illustrations tackle the problems which can arise when there's a new baby in the family. It's highly recommended by The Bookbag.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 32||Date: July 2007|
|Publisher: Puffin Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Tom is not impressed when baby Florence comes home. She didn't have much of a head start in his affections because - as the title of the book says - he really would have preferred a hamster. There are other problems on top of her not being a hamster though. She's small and she's fat. For some reason Mummy and Daddy are completely taken with this new baby and Daddy even wants Tom to be 'a big brother' which he tells him is a very important job. Tom, of course, knows that being an astronaut is an even more important job.
The baby doesn't do anything either. She just sleeps - even when Mummy and Daddy are calling her all sorts of silly names and sniffing her head and agreeing with each other about how nice she smells. When Tom burps at the table he's told to stop it, but when the baby burps, that's an entirely different matter. Tom is not pleased. He has a name for Florence. He calls her Poopoohead - but only to himself! There is, you see, the matter of the nappy. If Tom was a little older he would call it gross and, no, he doesn't wish to pass the bottom wipes.
Then one day Florence smiles and gradually Tom is won round. Perhaps she isn't so bad after all.
Oh, this is a lovely little book. The arrival of a new baby is always a traumatic event and particularly for a toddler who has been the apple of his parents' eye until very recently. What is so good is that it acknowledges that there will be problems, ranging from there being different treatment for the same behaviour, through the fact that an older child might feel that he's been supplanted in Mummy and Daddy's affections, to such practical matters as those rather disgusting nappies. It accepts the fact that the older child might feel resentful and allows that this is understandable and nothing to be ashamed of. It hints that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The story is good. It acknowledges the child's fears but doesn't patronise in any way and it shows that Tom will still have fun - playing at being an astronaut or being super-heroes with his friend Callum. It shows that Mummy will still love him and want to play silly games with him and that a little while down the line Tom's life will actually be richer for Florence's arrival.
If the story is good, the pictures are wonderful. Jessica Meserve has excelled herself with these illustrations which seem deceptively simple but are rich in detail. When Mummy and Daddy bring Florence home Mummy still has that post maternity plumpness and Daddy that look on his face which says that no one has ever done anything as wonderful as this before. When Tom and Callum are playing super-heroes even the dog has a cape to wear - but if you look very carefully you'll see Florence wearing it a little later. On every page you'll find something unusual, something to discuss - small details which mean that the main point of the story is not made with a heavy hand.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.
If you've another baby on the way your child might also enjoy our review of I Want A Sister by Tony Ross which looks at the problems which can arise when a child really wants either a brother or sister. For a more irreverent look at family life, check out Kisses Are Yuk! by Julia Jarman and Erica-Jane Waters.
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