The prospect of welcoming a new baby in a household is one that fills parents-to-be with joy, and yet also with dread if this is not the first child in the family. Explaining the arrival of a new baby can be tricky, and books always come in very handy in such circumstances. I read a lot of books with my son when I was pregnant with my daughter and I am sure it helped him make some sense of what was happening, as he was far too young for any type of “real” explanation.
Here is a selection of picture books that might help you along the way, if you are finding yourself in this situation:
Molly has always dreamt of a sister that would be just like her but she got Chloe, instead. They have nothing in common: Mollie loves to draw, whereas Chloe would rather eat the crayons. When their differences come to a head, Mollie feels guilt for expecting her sister to be someone she is not, and tries to make amends.
What a beautifully-coloured, trendy yet vintage looking picture, book Chloe, Instead is. It is such a chic book, and an absolute joy to look at. The vibrant bold colours jump out of the page and the simple-looking artwork help make this tale very dynamic indeed.
Chloe, Instead is a fantastic book about sibling relationships. It doesn’t shy away from the reality of not accepting a younger sibling but also of how difficult young siblings can be. Molly’s patience is tried by Chloe to a point where she can no longer take it and her reaction will be one that many young readers will be familiar with. It might also go a long way at taming some of the guilt they might feel about their feelings towards their new siblings. Interestingly no adults appear in the story, and Mollie is left to work out how to mend her relationship with Chloe herself, which is to find something that brings them together rather than focus on those that keep them apart. Although the text is very short, Chloe, Instead will work best with older children having to deal with the frustrations of younger siblings.
I really recommend you have a look at Chloe, Instead, even if the subject is not relevant to you. It is worth looking at for the artwork alone. I think it is going to be one my favourite picture books of the year!
Giles Andreae (text) & Vanessa Cabban (illustrations)
This wonderful tale from 2001 is getting a new lease of life in a brand new board book format. I read this book to my son so many times when pregnant with my daughter that I can definitely tell you that this book has been road-tested. A little boy is awaiting the arrival and his baby brother who is still inside his mother’s tummy and narrates the story, explaining his burgeoning relationship with his sibling through his mother’s tummy and at the same time explaining quite a bit about what happens in a pregnancy, such as the cravings, the tiredness etc. Andreae’s signature rhyming text is gentle yet funny in many ways and is teamed by Cabban’s soft and primary-coloured illustrations. I particularly like the involvement and presence of the dad, which is as equally important in the story as the mum. The book presents a familiar setting and every day scenes which young audiences will be able to relate to. Waiting for a new sibling is seen in a very positive light here, as the little boy is obviously looking forward to the new arrival, and although this might not always be the case in reality, the book can show to little readers what a happy experience this can actually be.
Along the way, young audiences will be encouraged to count from one to ten as Hegley discovers new farmyard babies as he goes to and fro, all smiling and ready for some fun. Tor Freeman’s artwork is a new discovery for me and I love how energetic and fun her illustrations are, as well as the way she uses animals to portray very human emotions, while keeping a humorous style. Both text and artwork work really well together to bring this lovely story to life.
The artwork is gorgeous, with a lovely hint of retro chic. There are plenty of lovely details to discover and look at, and even some counting to be done. The pages ooze mischief, but you get a real sense of Pearl’s growing annoyance also.
This is a fun, wacky story which might bring some welcome relief if the arrival of the new sibling is proving a little tense.
Here is a selection of other books on this subject which I have reviewed:
Monster Baby by Lee Carr and Jane Massey
My Sister is an Alien by Rachel Bright (for Armadillo Magazine)