…a triumphant paean to big-sister- and brotherhood…
Babies are so déclassé—just ask a former one. “When I was a baby I drank from a bottle and ate with my fingers. What a mess!” writes Katz (The Babies on the Bus) in the guise of one of several supremely mature preschool-age narrators. The adorably embarrassing flashback (the baby carrier! the high chair! the horror!) is paired with a present-day scene of the girl, eating politely at the table. “Now I’m big! I can eat with a fork and a spoon, and drink from a cup!” In perhaps the biggest triumph of all, one of the children is now a mini-Mommy, helping care for her new baby sister. Although Katz underplays the physical difference of an older child—her preschoolers look like large babies, with the same ginormous round heads—the characters display so much happiness and pride in their developmental leaps that it seems downright nap- deprived cranky to complain. The confident sunniness of this book, with its bright, nursery palette and simple graphic shapes, might also serve as a gentle nudge for readers still clinging to their babyish ways. Ages 1–5. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Katz’s signature rosy-cheeked kids of different ethnicities—wearing patterned clothes on bright backgrounds—are full of joy and energy; their pride is all over these pages, and that’s something toddlers will understand."
"The thoughtful construction of the text, the chipper illustrations, and the age-appropriate topic give this go-to utility for both parents and librarians."
The New York Times Book Review
"[A] triumphant paean to big-sister- and brotherhood."
School Library Journal
PreS—A celebration of growing up, depicted via a series of before-and-after vignettes. Different preschool narrators take turns reminiscing about how life has improved now that they are "big." Youngsters will identify with the small triumphs of independence, such as working a zipper, feeding oneself, and playing with friends at the park. Throughout, each child is shown as an infant and, on the opposite page, as an independent preschooler. Katz's watercolor and gouache illustrations are consistent with what fans have come to expect. A pleasant choice that deserves a place in most collections.—Laura Hunter, Mount Laurel Library, NJ
There's a lot to like in this book about all things "big kid." The first-person voice seamlessly shifts from one spread to another, attributing itself to characters of different races and genders. A pattern emerges through page design that shows a baby on the verso with text starting "When I was a baby…" and an older child on the recto with text reading "NOW I'M BIG" and expounding on how he or she can now do things that were impossible during babyhood. Katz's signature, colorful, stylized characters rendered in watercolor and gouache romp through the pages, culminating with a little girl reveling in her new status as big sister to the new baby in her family. Earlier, one scene showing a baby in a playpen (who grows up to run around the park with friends) might seem a bit dated given rising concerns about the safety of such baby gear, but the real safety no-no comes at book's end when the aforementioned big sister jumps on her bed while holding the tiny new baby by the arms. It's a joyful scene, to be sure, but the sight of a teddy bear falling off the bed as the sisters spring up and down bespeaks a doubtlessly unintended sense of peril in this otherwise gentle book. Faux pas aside, it's a sweet celebration of leaving baby days behind. (Picture book. 2-5)
Karen Katz has written and illustrated more than fifty picture books and novelty books including the bestselling Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? After graduating from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, she attended the Yale Graduate School of Art and Architecture where she became interested in folk art, Indian miniatures, Shaker art, and Mexican art. Her book, Counting Kisses, was named one of the 100 Greatest Books for Kids by Scholastic Parent & Child and was a Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection. Karen, her husband Gary Richards, and their daughter Lena divide their time between New York City and Saugerties, New York. Learn more about Karen Katz at KarenKatz.com.
From painting and sculpture to quiltmaking and costume design, Karen Katz has been making art in one form or another all her life. But it was not until she and her husband adopted a baby from Guatemala that she considered a career in children's books. Published in 1997, her debut picture book, Over the Moon, told the story of one adoptive family's happy beginnings in a country far away. Since then, Katz has gone on to create many award-winning picture, board, and novelty books that capture the joys of childhood in simple storylines, vibrant colors, and winsome illustrations. Some include count-down elements (Counting Kisses, Ten Tiny Tickles) or interactive features (Where Is Baby's Belly Button?, Peek-A-Baby); still others introduce holiday traditions (My First Kwanzaa, My First Chinese New Year) or reinforce good habits, manners, or behavior (Excuse Me!, No Biting!, I Can Share).
Perhaps the secret to Katz's success (besides the undeniable appeal of her signature round-headed babies!) can be summed up in this quote taken directly from the author/artist's website: "When an idea for a story pops into my head, I ask these questions: Will a child want to read this book? Will parents want to read this book with their children? Will this book make a child laugh? Will this book make a parent and child feel something? Is there something visual here that will hold a child's interest? Will a child see something in a different way after reading this book? If the answer to any of those questions is 'yes,' then I know I'm on the right track."
Good To Know
Katz explains the difference between designing picture books and board books in this way:
Picture books usually have more words in them but they tell more of a narrative story. Board books are usually simpler. They are generally 6 spreads and are about one concept. When I create a board book, I try to make something that is very interactive for the baby, with flaps and pull tabs and lots of surprises. Board books are a perfect size for a baby's hand to hold and touch. Babies can have an experience all by them selves with a good board book and can also have a good lap-time experience with a mommy or daddy or caregiver. Picture books take a little more care since the pages can rip. With a board book, you can throw it in a stroller, chew on the corners and even wipe off mashed peas.
Katz has received numerous awards for her work, including:
Smithsonian, People, and Parent Guide magazines Best Books designation, all 1997, all for Over the Moon
Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award nomination, Florida Reading Association Award nomination, and Child magazine Best Book designation, all 2000, all for The Colors of Us
National Parenting Publications Gold Award, and Child magazine Best Book designation, both 2001, and Bank Street School Books Committee Best Book designation, 2002, all for Counting Kisses
Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, 2002, for Counting Kisses and Twelve Hats for Lena.