This Is Our Baby, Born Today

Varsha Bajaj, illus. by Eliza Wheeler. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-16684-6
Bajaj (Abby Spencer Goes to Hollywood) traces the first day in a baby elephant’s life, an event celebrated by family members, other animals, and even elements of nature itself. The soft, gently repetitive text quickly establishes a soothing message of love and acceptance: “These are Aunts,/ caring and grand,/ who circle the Baby/ born today.” (There’s a hint of “The House That Jack Built” to the episodic structure, minus the cumulative aspect.) Bajaj focuses on a female-centric cast of elephants, subtly referencing their matriarchal societies, and glancing mentions of monkeys and peacocks give a fuller look at the book’s Indian setting. Working in pen, ink, and bright watercolors, Wheeler (Wherever You Go) evokes a lush environment of towering banyan trees and dense vegetation, helping create another personified character in the setting (“This is the Lagoon,/ calm and waiting,/ to bathe the Baby/ born today”). It’s an intimate and celebratory look at the early days of an elephant’s life, and a reminder that human births are pretty special, too. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Jill Corcoran, Jill Corcoran Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2016
Release date: 08/02/2016
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