Animal Babies: A Belated Book Shower Post

Any request for book recommendations triggers something in my brain, and I can’t let go until I find a book that matches it. (It’s an occupational hazard.) So when I read a few weeks ago about a virtual book-recommending baby shower for Nonlinear Girl, I started ticking through all the new-baby books I could think of, even though neither the mom nor the shower host know me from a hole in the wall. I just thought it was so practical, especially since—as the host pointed out—having a nice expansive selection of books would be a great help as the new babies’ incipient big sister gets used to the whole “big sister” concept and as the whole family copes with the chaos that was about to erupt.

Well, the shower deadline is over, and the babies were born about a week ago, but—like those times on the reference desk when I totally NAIL what the patron wants just after they’ve given up and walked out the door—I’ve finally come up with a few contributions for this virtual-shower booklist that are worthy of the fabulous suggestions listed in the shower post:

What is it like to come into the world as a baby chick? How about a whale? An opossum?

The premise for this book couldn’t be simpler: the start of life for twelve different animals, each described in just a sentence or two: “If you were a baby seahorse, you’d pop out of your father’s pouch and swim away with hundreds of sisters and brothers…If you were a soft, new porcupette, you’d say, ‘Uh-uh-uh.” But your prickly porcupine mother would say nothing at all.” The lush illustrations seem almost larger than life, with each scale on the mama snake and wrinkle on the baby deer mouse lovingly distinguished. At the end, of course, we come to the human child addressed in the text, who “rode curled beneath your mother’s heart, growing and growing,” ready to emerge and be held by loving parents. One of my very, very favorite older-sibling presents.

The first time I ever saw a Steve Jenkins book, Actual Size, I knew all I’d have to do was put it on display at my school library, and it would go, go, go right out the door, multiple times. Brothers and Sisters is another addition to the Jenkins canon of knockout gorgeous nonfiction animal books illustrated with torn-paper collage, and filled with loads of kid appeal. It’s really written for school-age kids; if I were sharing this book with a new older sibling of preschool age, I’d do a lot of paraphrasing—it’s pretty text-heavy, loaded with tidbits about sibling relations: naked mole rats dig intricate tunnels with their hundreds of brothers and sisters; nine-spotted hyena same-sex siblings fight hard and viciously, while baby crocodile siblings are generally pals who help each other escape from predators. But even for younger kids, the illustrations, and the concept that many different animals take many different attitudes towards their siblings, could be intriguing and reassuring.

Cutest. Animal. Book. EVER. Like If You Were Born a Kitten, this title is built around one simple concept: the ways different animals express affection. One line of text per page, accompanied by photos: porcupines brush noses, prairie dogs hug, manatees nuzzle, giraffes lick. Guaranteed to make you go “Awwwwww…”

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Oh, I love the idea of the animal siblings book! Thanks! (who needs deadlines - the babies came early, I am now perpetually running late...)

Nice post

given the fact that I'm a huge lover of books, I tried to make a research of this Steve Jenkins but I couldn't find anything on wikipedia. If you could give some background, I'd be more than grateful to you. Great site, congratulations.

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Thanks for this post! Well, the shower deadline is over, and the babies were born about a week ago, but—like those times on the reference desk when I totally NAIL what the patron wants just after they’ve given up and walked out the door—I’ve finally come up with a few contributions for this virtual-shower booklist that are worthy of the fabulous suggestions listed in the shower post:

Cutest. Animal. Book. EVER. Like If You Were Born a Kitten, this title is built around one simple concept: the ways different animals express affection. One line of text per page, accompanied by photos: porcupines brush noses, prairie dogs hug, manatees nuzzle, giraffes lick. Guaranteed to make you go “Awwwwww…”

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