I Used to Be the Baby

Overview

"I used to be the baby, but now I am big." So begins this story of a not-very-big sibling who suddenly finds himself with a baby brother. He willing shares his toys with the baby, he plays with him, and he knows when to be quiet. He sings a cheerful song when it is needed, and he teaches his brother many useful lessons. But sometimes even the biggest of us likes to be the baby -- and in this loving family, that is no problem at all!

A young boy helps his mother take care of his baby brother.

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Overview

"I used to be the baby, but now I am big." So begins this story of a not-very-big sibling who suddenly finds himself with a baby brother. He willing shares his toys with the baby, he plays with him, and he knows when to be quiet. He sings a cheerful song when it is needed, and he teaches his brother many useful lessons. But sometimes even the biggest of us likes to be the baby -- and in this loving family, that is no problem at all!

A young boy helps his mother take care of his baby brother.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"I used to be the baby, but now I am big. I have a baby brother, and I help Mommy take care of him," begins Ballard's (My Day, Your Day) reassuring tale of brotherly love. The big brother narrator alternates between observations of various situations ("He always wants to take my toys") and proposed solutions ("I will give him some of his"). One spread, for example, presents a small framed vignette of the baby trying to chew the pages of a book ("He tries to eat my books"). Immediately to the right, a full-bleed pen-and-ink and watercolor illustration that takes up two-thirds of the spread shows big brother and baby sharing board books while their mother, in the background, shuffles by with the laundry ("He can have his own books, and I will read to him"). The format repeats throughout until the baby is tucked into his crib at night. In a comforting conclusion, the final illustration shows the narrator enjoying some alone time with his mom: "I am the big brother. But sometimes I like to be the baby too." Ages 3-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
I Used to Be the Baby is specifically designed to help very young children make the shift from being the baby to helping with the baby—in this case, a younger sibling. The narration of the story is split on one page with a picture between the text. The top line focuses on baby behavior—"He tries to eat my books;" "It is nap time, and he is tired"—while the bottom line shares the more "mature" response the little boy takes with his new brother—"He can have his own books and I will read to him;" "We are very quiet." While most of the "top" lines sound like something a three or four year old might say, I found some of the mature responses to be too capable for the average toddler. The illustrations found throughout the text are colorful and attractive, and the detail should please inquisitive toddlers. While not the most powerful picture book on siblings getting along with each other, I Used to Be the Baby will provide a pleasant read for youngsters and their parents. 2002, Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins Publishers,
— Jean Boreen
School Library Journal
PreS-This book presents a day of family activity, with the focus on the relationship between a boy and his baby brother. For each event, there is the downside as well as the gracious solution. "He doesn't like riding in the car. I will sing him a song. He is sad in the stroller. I will hold his hand. -He doesn't like baths. So I blow bubbles for him to watch." Some of the problems are due to baby's own fears; others are a result of his sibling's behavior. When the text reads, "Sand can hurt your eyes," the accompanying illustration shows the boy throwing sand over his shoulder, right onto baby's head. While an oblong boxed vignette shows the unhappy interaction between siblings and the mother's woeful patience, a full-page-and-a-quarter illustration shows the family working as a team. A thin black line outlines each detailed scene and the round, open-faced characters, while smooth expanses of watercolor richly fill the pages. There is a feeling of serenity to the art, even when the little one is distraught. There's none of the inevitable frustration or anger that an older sibling might feel, and the book could be criticized for the ease with which the brother becomes so helpful. Yet, in accentuating the positive, this title does present many feel-good ideas. Certainly there's no harm in basking in its intentional idealism.-Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This effort would fall into the "new sibling issues" category, the premise laid out on the first page, "I used to be the baby, but now I am big. I have a baby brother, and I help Mommy take care of him." Through several examples, big brother offers solutions to new baby woes. When baby is sad in the stroller, brother holds his hand. When baby doesn't enjoy bath time, big brother blows bubbles to amuse him. The payoff comes after the baby has gone to sleep and big brother gets some alone time on Mommy's lap. The artwork is attractive with its array of bright watercolors and distinct outlines. The characters and household objects have a pudgy, roly-poly appeal. In fact, the illustrations, not the text, subtly betray big brother's natural reactions to the new arrival. In the smaller panel of the layout, for example, he vies for mother's attention during bath time with such antics as tugging on her hair and wearing a towel on his head. The facing page has a larger illustration of the behavior that remedies the situation: blowing the bubbles. Ballard (My Day, Your Day, 2001, etc.) does well enough outlining some of the ways in which the family will be altered with a young addition and scratches the surface of some of the emotional issues surrounding such an upheaval. Though this child is meant to be a model, he seems more patient and helpful than many children would be. (Picture book. 2-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060295868
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 24
  • Sales rank: 637,837
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin Ballard, was born in Los Angeles and attended the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. After several years in Washington, D.C., she now lives with her husband and sons in Switzerland. Ms. Ballard has written many popular books, including When We Get Home, When I Am a Sister, and Good-bye, House.

Robin Ballard, was born in Los Angeles and attended the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. After several years in Washington, D.C., she now lives with her husband and sons in Switzerland. Ms. Ballard has written many popular books, including When We Get Home, When I Am a Sister, and Good-bye, House.

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