cover image You Were the First

You Were the First

Patricia MacLachlan, illus. by Stephanie Graegin. Little, Brown, $17 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-18533-2

Let’s hear it for the privileges of birth order! Because as this book reminds all the Numero Unos out there, “One day there may be a second—or a third—to sleep in the basket with the yellow ribbon wound round. But you will always be the first.” MacLachlan (Cat Talk) and Graegin (Water in the Park) celebrate the modest milestones that seem so marvelous the first time around: first snowfall, first steps, first smiles, and first coos. As MacLachlan sagely observes, first babies “teach us how to be parents,” a statement that many children may find positively revelatory. However, the book presents parenthood as a surprisingly passive learning experience. Graegin’s mixed-media images, rendered in soft nursery colors, portray a couple in a kind of holding pattern of happiness. There are no highs, lows, or frantic moments of wondering what to do; every page is a study in warm, easy smiles. Even singletons who think they’re very special indeed may see this as an overidealized depiction of the nuclear family. Up to age 3. Author’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, East West Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)