The Day the Babies Crawled Away

The Day the Babies Crawled Away

5.0 9
by Peggy Rathmann

View All Available Formats & Editions

What a lovely day at the fair. Children lining up for pony rides . . . moms and dads in a pie-eating contest . . . babies chasing butterflies . . . babies heading for the trees . . . I SAY! Where are those babies GOING? Only a small boy sees them leaving and follows as the babies chase butterflies in trees, frogs in a bog, even bats in a cave, ignoring pleas to

…  See more details below


What a lovely day at the fair. Children lining up for pony rides . . . moms and dads in a pie-eating contest . . . babies chasing butterflies . . . babies heading for the trees . . . I SAY! Where are those babies GOING? Only a small boy sees them leaving and follows as the babies chase butterflies in trees, frogs in a bog, even bats in a cave, ignoring pleas to come back. But not to worry, our hero saves the day, making sure that all the babies get home safely from their appealing adventures.

Caldecott Medal winner Peggy Rathmann has created a highly original story told in a lilting text and a bold new style with classic black silhouettes against stunning skies of many colors that change and glow as afternoon turns into evening.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
The book itself is a pleasure, despite the hype. Rathmann does not let us down by resting on her artistic laurels and repeating herself. She is a real illustrator, who believes that pictures should illuminate, animate and follow the words that inspire them. For this reasonable reason, each of her books has a different look. This latest -- Rathmann calls it a ''ballad'' about a young child who saves five babies from running off on the day of a fair -- makes perfect material for a sentimental journey into the art of silhouetting. — Karla Kuskin
The Washington Post
Sweet, funny, original and stunningly beautiful picture book...What makes the book special is the illustrations of the babies' adventures, all done in diamond-sharp black silhouette against a sky that deepens from cloudy blue through saffron-green, orange and pink to luminous violet, as night falls, and babies and heroic rescuer alike snuggle up with their moms.—Elizabeth Ward
Publishers Weekly
Rathmann (Officer Buckle and Gloria) makes an innovative departure from her usual prose and pictures in this rollicking rhyming tale, illustrated in needle-sharp, atmospheric silhouettes against twilight skies. The initial spreads picture a lively neighborhood picnic and pie-eating contest with fluttering banners and an all-ages crowd. In voiceover, a parent reminisces about how "you" represented here as a boy in a firefighter's helmet had to "save the day ... When the babies crawled away!" The speaker admits she was caught off-guard: "We moms and dads were eating pies, The babies saw some butterflies And what do you know? Surprise! Surprise! The babies crawled away!" The adults do not witness their five babies' escape. But the alert boy notices, vainly tugs at his mother's shirt, then chases the runaways into a thicket: "You hollered, `Hey! You babies, stay!' But none of them did. And some of them hid." The babies' shadowy figures never seem endangered; they blend with the tangled shapes of the branches, creating a hide-and-seek puzzle for their pursuer and for readers. Yet the boy senses their peril and consistently comes to the rescue. Rathmann's signature palette of zingy pink, lemon yellow and robin's egg blue deepen to sunset colors that imply time is tight; the flattened foreground includes a hillside with every blade of grass in stark relief, and the cavorting shapes of the children. Rathmann's poem never misses a beat, and her triumphant finale does not pass judgment on the parents; instead she praises the sleepy, baby-wrangling hero. Ages 2-6. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
On the day of the fair the moms and dads were so busy eating pies they never noticed the babies had crawled away. But a young fella in a fireman's hat tries to get them to stay. When they don't, he follows them as they "crawl in the trees chasing bees" and "in a bog chasing frogs." He saves them through several trials and tribulations and returns them safely home. He is rewarded with cheers and pies from the moms and dads, and his own mother's warm, secure lap where he falls fast asleep. The landscape and people are all in black silhouette against a beautiful sunny blue sky. Near the horizon are shades of pale green and yellow that change to orange and purple by the end of the day. The pictures are a continuous flow from page to page as the babies crawl down, them up another hill, out onto a dead tree branch and overlook a cliff. Rathmann then provides a panoramic view of the entire area and shows our little hero as he leads the babies back to their parents. The combination of drama and playfulness in the rhyming text comes through beautifully as one reads it aloud. The illustrations carry through this same drama/playfulness and add another dimension to the text. Only the best picture books provide the great satisfaction one finds throughout this adventure. For some additional fun, look for Officer Buckle and Gloria on the title page. 2003, G P Putnam's Sons, Ages 3 to 7.
— Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-A pint-sized do-gooder goes to great lengths to round up a bunch of renegade babies who have wandered off and returns them to their parents. Marvelous backlit silhouettes convey the drama and the humor in this sublime slice of inspired silliness. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Caldecott Medalist Rathmann scores again with this rhymed tale of a child's struggles to chaperone a wayward flock of errant babies, illustrated in vivacious, finely-cut silhouettes. With the parents distracted by a pie-eating contest, only a small lad in a firefighter's helmet notices that five babies have crawled away from the picnic. Fruitlessly waving an admonitory finger, he follows as they clamber into a thick stand of trees, through a bog, into a cave, and over a cliff, collapsing at last for a nap in their exhausted pursuer's lap before letting him lead them back to joyful reunions. Posed against brilliantly lambent skies, each opaque, realistically rendered figure, from babies to butterflies and blades of grass, stands out distinctly; even the youngest viewers will have no trouble keeping track of who's up to what. Rathmann tucks in plenty of visual byplay and jokes, and brings the episode to a cozy close with the lad curled up in his own mother's lap. At least as inventive and captivating as 10 Minutes Till Bedtime, this is bound to be a similar hit with children. (Picture book. 5-8)

Read More

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.34(w) x 11.77(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range:
2 - 5 Years

Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2003

Peggy Rathmann
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-399-23196-X

Chapter One

Remember the day
The babies crawled away?
We moms and dads were eating pies,
The babies saw some butterflies-And
what do you know?
Surprise! Surprise!
The babies crawled away!

Remember the way
You tried to save the day?
You hollered, "HEY!
You babies, STAY!"
But none of them did.
And some of them hid.
What a day
When the babies crawled away!

They crawled in the trees chasing bees.

They crawled in a bog chasing frogs.

They crawled in a cave-You
cried, "Babies, BEHAVE!"
But the babies loved bats,
So the babies just waved!

When the babies crawled out on a ledge,
You yelled, "Babies!
Don't crawl near the edge!"
But none of them heard-At
least, not the three
Who thought they were birds
And got stuck in a tree!

You yelled,
"I'll be there in a jiff!"
As you scrambled down the cliff-AND
(Including the two
Who practically flew
Before landing on you!)
What a day
When the babies crawled away!

But then-My,
oh my!
How those babies began to cry!
They were hungry, and tired,
And their little mouths were dry!

So you mashed them some blackberries
With droplets of dew,
And they took a short nap
In a big pile on you-I
What a day
When the babies crawled away!

Remember the sling
You invented to bring them all back?
You borrowed their diapers
And tied them into a sack!
With lines made of vines,
It took quite a while,
But you and the babies
All rode up in style-Hey,
What a day
When the babies crawled away!

Remember the way
They followed you home that day?
Through the cave and the trees,
On their brave, little knees,
Waving "bye-bye"
To the bats and the bees-OKAY!
What a day
When the babies crawled away!

Remember the way
I carried you home to bed?
You were thirsty, and tired,
And your little eyes were red.
You told me your story,
I brewed you some tea,
Then you fell
Fast asleep
In a small pile on me ...

I say,
What a day
When the babies crawled away.


Copyright © 2003 by Peggy Rathmann.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Day the Babies Crawled Away 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I haven't actually READ this book, but when I picked it up to look at it in a bookstore, I was amazed by how beautiful the silhouette artwork was! It's absolutely gorgeous, and I'm sure children find it mesmerizing. It really allows your imagination to take over when reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Rathman, a well-known author/illustrator (i.e., Officer Buckle and Gloria, a Caldecott Medal winner, and Good Night Gorilla) has created an enchanting and irresistible rhyming tale here. A young boy becomes a hero by rescuing and eventually returning a gang of mischievous, runaway babies to their grateful parents. This unique storyline is beautifully brought to life in even more unique illustrations. The illustrations are almost completely done in silhouette. The entire landscape, the young hero, the adorable and troublesome babies, and all the butterflies, birds, frogs, and bats they encounter are all done in black silhouette. But wonderful, lively colors are introduced into the illustrations. All of the silhouettes are set against beautifully colored, wondrous skies. These amazing skies range from a beautiful, blue green sky with puffy white clouds in the beginning to a rainbow-colored, sunset sky to a stunning, purple night sky filled with lively white fireworks. Preschoolers are sure to enjoy the rhyming text and heroism of someone their own age and be captivated by probably unfamiliar artistic method of silhouette. This book is likely to inspire many to try this style themselves. Highly recommended for ages 3 to 10. I'm shocked that this truly exceptional picture book did not win the Caldecott award in 2004(for the most distinquished American picture book published in the preceding year) or at least get picked as a Caldecott Honor Book (basically a 'finalist'). I'm also surprised that there is no indication of other award it won or should have won. For example, it won the 2004 Northern California Book Award award in the Children's Literature category.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. The illustrations are exceptional and striking. The words are in a poetic form and my kids love to 'read' along with me since they are able to remember the words. My little girl, age four, LOVES this book. She asks me to read it almost every night and she never grows tired of it. This is one book I do not get tired of reading to her since it is a cute story and it has beautiful illustrations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My son loves this book! He gets to pretend that he is the little boy who saves the babies. The silhouettes of every character is perfect for helping develop his imagination, and helps him pretend he's a character in this story. Fantastic!
nik-b More than 1 year ago
I was given this book as a gift when my now three year-old daughter was just a few months old. It was and still is her all-time favorite. She now "reads" it to her baby sister who is also fascinated by it. The artwork is stunning and there are so many little things to search out in the silhouettes. The story line flows beautifully and is captivating for kiddies and adults alike. This is one you won't get tired of reading night after night!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JWaltner More than 1 year ago
My son (3 years old) and I love to read this book at bedtime. It's his favorite of all of his books. The illustrations are detailed, amazing and beautiful. My son loves to find the outlines of the babies in the trees and in each picture. The text has great rhythm without being too cutesy with the rhyming or too predictable. This is one of the books that I actually enjoy hearing every night, too! We have given this book as a gift many times and we always hear praise back on this one. I would highly recommend it.
LoveTheSpurs More than 1 year ago
My son and I adore this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago