cover image This Is the Day!

This Is the Day!

Phillis Gershator, , illus. by Marjorie Priceman. . Houghton, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-49746-1

An adaptation of a turn-of-the-century song, this picture book depends heavily on Priceman’s (Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin ) festively colored, Madeline -inspired compositions to tamp down the confusion or anxiety that the text may otherwise elicit from its preschool audience. “Monday’s the day we give babies away/ with a half a pound of tea,” the book begins, with a scene of dozens of babies in blue or pink hooded footies gamboling in their tiny beds, a dog loyally barking as a woman embraces the baby she’s chosen, a matron dancing merrily in the background while her colleague (a tall Miss Clavel type, sans wimple) holds out a bag of tea leaves. In the absence of a story, kids will respond with questions. Just who is doing the giving and why are babies are being “given away” in the first place? If this book is about adoption (as the author’s endnote suggests but the text does not make clear), why is it that only women get to pick out babies to take home? More visually oriented children may enjoy spotting the various ways that Priceman pays homage to Ludwig Bemelmans, from the set-up of the dining table to the appearance of the house, but the book’s metaphorical whimsy seems most likely to please adults. Ages 3-6. (Oct.)