Billy and Belle

Billy and Belle

by Sarah Garland, Sarah Garland
     
 

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In quasi-comic-book format complete with dialogue in balloons, Billy and Belle is a gently humorous story featuring a modern mixed-race family on an important day. Little Billy and Belle can't wait for Mum to have her baby: Belle already knows how to give a newborn a bottle, and Billy's set to share his pet hamster with a new brother or sister. When Mum

Overview

In quasi-comic-book format complete with dialogue in balloons, Billy and Belle is a gently humorous story featuring a modern mixed-race family on an important day. Little Billy and Belle can't wait for Mum to have her baby: Belle already knows how to give a newborn a bottle, and Billy's set to share his pet hamster with a new brother or sister. When Mum goes to the hospital, the kids go off to school for Pet Day (hamster and pet spider in tow) and a little unlooked-for excitement, as all the pets get loose. The family's love and community's support are charmingly portrayed in Sarah Garland's colourful artwork.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Billy and Belle are two siblings whose mother is expecting a baby any minute. When the morning of labor pains arrives, the pair head off to Billy's school with a neighbor while Dad goes to the hospital with Mom. The hours pass, but after Belle's curiosity almost turns the school pet day into a zany zoo, the teachers are happy to see Dad when it's time to go home. Garland's situations hold much potential for a frenzy of action, yet her text is flat and the story line virtually lifeless. The new brother's birth is anticlimactic--the children and Dad hardly seem excited or moved. The animal escapades in the schoolyard don't create much of a ruckus either. Garland's ink and watercolor illustrations are sometimes peppered with talk balloons or broken into small comic book-style panels, which gives her artwork a light mood. Her predominantly subdued palette resonates the warmth appropriate to a familial tale. Of particular note are the endpaper illustrations that show Mom and Dad--a biracial couple--in bed together. Though a natural and even broadening depiction of parents, the situation may need explaining for some children. Ages 3-8. (June)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-- Billy and Belle are eagerly anticipating the birth of a new sibling, but the impending arrival does not overshadow their excitement about pet day at school. Toddler Belle is allowed to accompany her brother for the day, but, unfortunately, she has no pet to share. Following her brother's suggestion, she captures a large spider, but keeping track of it leads to all sorts of pandemonium. At the end of the day, the children's father picks them up and reports that they have a new little brother. Their mother's arrival home with the tiny infant (the same night!) concludes this picture book. A comic book format leaves plenty of room for the flurry of activity in the homey illustrations, and new details can be spotted upon every reading. School is depicted as a multicultural, stimulating environment, and the children's household is a cozy and cooperative place with a black father and a white mother. Some Briticims are slightly distracting, as when the father and children eat spaghetti for their ``tea.'' Dialogue balloons expand upon the text, which can also stand on its own. Part of this story's charm lies in its portrayal of a new baby fitting so naturally into the normal hustle and bustle of family life. Billy and Belle can be enjoyed on many levels, from the truly funny antics of pet day to the positive portrayal of an interracial family. --Anna DeWind, Milwaukee Pub . Lib .
Kirkus Reviews
Published in England in 1992, this American edition of a warmhearted picture book is sure to offer reassurance and comfort. Little Belle gets to go to school for the first time with her big brother Billy, because Mum is going to the hospital to have a baby. A comfortable morning chaos with burnt toast and lost socks leads the parents in a cab to the hospital and the kids to school, where Billy shows his pet hamster and Belle has a pet spider. When Belle loses the spider, she releases all the other pets in her search, but everyone claims their own and all is well. Dad makes dinner ("tea" in the British text) and a neighbor sits for the kids while he fetches mom and new baby brother Adam from the hospital. Garland illustrates all of this in limpid, sunny colors and a beautiful, vibrant line; Dad is of African descent, Mum has blonde spiky hair, and all three children are various shades of latte or chocolate. Very nice. (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781845070380
Publisher:
Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Publication date:
06/09/2004
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
7.50(w) x 10.75(h) x 0.25(d)
Age Range:
3 - 6 Years

Meet the Author

Sarah Garland is a much-loved author/illustrator who has published more than 40 books. The daughter of a publisher and illustrator, she trained as a typographer at the London College of Printing. She has written many books for children, and also books for adults on herbs and their uses. During her childhood in the New Forest and in recent years she has concentrated on growing a very wide variety of herbs to use in her kitchen, and to treat minor ailments. She lives in Chedworth, Gloucestershire. Her books for Frances Lincoln are Eddie's Garden and Eddie's Kitchen; Going to Playschool, Doing the Garden, Going Swimming, Coming to Tea, Doing the Shopping, Doing Christmas, Having a Picnic and Doing the Washing; Billy and Belle; Dashing Dog; Splash and Zoom.

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