There's Going to Be a Baby

John Burningham, Author, Helen Oxenbury, Illustrator
John Burningham, illus. by Helen Oxenbury, Candlewick, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4907-4
Reviewed on: 09/13/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
On the heels of the pairing of Mem Fox and Oxenbury in Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, here's another dream-come-true matchup: Oxenbury and her husband. A little boy has learned that a sibling is on the way; as the seasons change and the mother's tummy expands, she and the boy engage in a fanciful dialogue on the subject of "What will the baby do?" It's an approach that could easily turn twee, but Burningham (It's a Secret!) makes it feel like an authentic portrayal of both an expectant mother's reveries and a firstborn's vacillating emotions. When the mother suggests that the baby could work at the zoo, the boy mischievously suggests that a tiger might eat the new arrival. Wordless intervening spreads picture the baby trying out the various career paths discussed—in this case, washing and feeding various animals. The handsome, clear-lined images may seem retro at first, but the crispness acts as a containing presence for displacement fears and a source of narrative momentum—all the while allowing Oxenbury to exercise the full power of her visual magic. Ages 2–up. (Oct.)
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