BABIES was published in 1963. The author is Gyo Fujikawa, who was raised in a Japanese household in California.

This book is something that you and your baby can enjoy together. It can also help a toddler prepare for the arrival of another newborn in the house by walking him/her through the world of babies.

I like the book because it exudes sweetness, it is warm and tender. Pictures of babies that make you smile, that make you appreciate how they make even the mundane things in life a pleasure. Inside, is a portrayal of everyday activities that babies do – crying, getting changed, eating, sleeping, drinking and the like. There are drawings of cheerful babies running around, naughty lilliputians preoccupied with mischief-making and the really cherubic ones busy with acts of goodness. There is neither a storyline nor a moral. However it succeeds in what, I think, it was intended to do – make babies relate to other babies and see their own world unravel before them. What the simple illustrations do for the adult is evoke the realization how very elementary things like holding a spoon or sliding a sock up the leg are actually huge successes in their petite innocent world!

The book was actually considered revolutionary, more so around the time it was published. Stumped? Here is the icing on the cake – the book shows babies of different races playing together and hugging each other! Gyo Fujikawa’s book depicting ethnically diverse children coexisting happily, in a way, opened the door to many more multicultural pictures books. It was for this reason that I felt immensely pleased when I picked up this book, even though this issue was much beyond the cognizance of my infant daughter!

There are so many good books out there for toddlers, preschoolers and young adults but what can I read to my baby – BABIES by Gyo Fujikawa. Enjoy!

A soother

OWL BABIES By Martin Waddell , illustrated by Patrick Benson

OWL BABIES is a picture book that deals with a very sensitive issue that every infant or toddler experiences early on. It is a book about the mental anguish that young ones undergo due to maternal separation and the constant reassurance they need – the belief and trust that every mother would unfailingly return to her young one.

The book zooms into a simple yet critical incident in the lives of three owlets. The setting is a sober conversation among three siblings upon discovering their mommy’s disappearance one night. Waiting is painful. They hope and pray that their mother is out, only to find food, that she is safe and that she would definitely come back to them. The mommy hooter returns. Her unexpected yet expected return makes the owlets ecstatic!

I bought this book around the time my daughter started preschool (after staying at home for a good chunk of her early life) . I would always reassure her that I would pick her up later the same day. She never cried a tear but she would always reiterate my verbal assurance. I think we were able to relate to this book a lot and my daughter felt good about the restored confidence. Even after months, we still read it and enjoy the warmth when the mother owl takes in her babies under her wings.

The incident is uncomplicated and the story is simply written. The visual backdrop of a black tree hole and frightened owls may not be a common sight among the brightly hued, cheerfully written children’s books. However, the vivid pictures will only draw you closer to the actual night. This is probably one of the many books based on this concept, but it is surely a very good book to be read to your little one who needs the reassurance.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

My first review being that of an Eric Carle work is no accident. I have been reading his books to my 2.5 year old since she was 10 months. The one that has impressed me the most is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (although my daughter might debate and settle for “Head to Toe”!).

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a picture board book. It can be read to a child as young as an year old. The author is also the illustrator. His art, although not the very common type, is interesting and colorful. The book is a simple story about the three weeks in the life of a mortal caterpillar, the three weeks between his conception from an egg to his culmination into a beautiful butterfly.

The book begins with the caterpillar’s entry into this world from a tiny egg on a Sunday morning. An apple does not seem to satisfy his hunger. He continues to eat many other fruits in increasing numbers on the following days of the week. Still hungry, the caterpillar chooses to climax his routine with a gluttonous meal, a horde of eatables. As expected, the immodest eater ends up with a stomach ache! All the food seems to have an effect, the caterpillar actually grows in size. He houses himself in a cocoon for a couple of weeks and reenters the world as an attractive butterfly.

The above story is narrated in close to just a dozen lines. The pages are loaded with brightly colored pictures of the caterpillar and his food pals. The fruits, that he eats on the weekdays, are in counting sequence on layered pages. This adds interest while the little one learns to count 1-5. The names of a multitude of yummy foods can be easily “ingested” (pun intended!) by the small brain. The days of the week are also subtly interwoven into the story. The grand finale is when your child actually picks up the life cycle of a butterfly without a science book or a garden tour, but a simple story about a hungry creature and lots of fun food!

And here is the bonus – whenever my overeaten toddler asks for more or simply junk, I cannot resist the slogan that actually makes sense to her- “you don’t want to end up with a tummy ache just like our ever hungry friend”!

The author has successfully packed in a lot things without giving the feeling of going overboard to the reader. He teaches many basic concepts while keeping the simplicity of the story in tact. Read it to your child to see the jolt when the egg pops, the smile that all the yum-yums bring, the worried look when the worm falls sick and the twinkle in the eyes on seeing the glorious butterfly!