Peter Is Just a Baby


Peter can't do any of the things that his big sister can. She can leap and skip, but he can only crawl. She only cries for very important things -- like scraping her knee -- but Peter cries all the time. She can use grown-up words and count in French; he can only say "dada" and "baba." But after all, Peter is just a baby. Though maybe now that he's having his first birthday party, he'll be the sibling his big sister has dreamed of . . . This charming, light-hearted book is the perfect story for any child ...
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Peter can't do any of the things that his big sister can. She can leap and skip, but he can only crawl. She only cries for very important things -- like scraping her knee -- but Peter cries all the time. She can use grown-up words and count in French; he can only say "dada" and "baba." But after all, Peter is just a baby. Though maybe now that he's having his first birthday party, he'll be the sibling his big sister has dreamed of . . . This charming, light-hearted book is the perfect story for any child adjusting to a younger sibling.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The title is the favorite refrain of the narrator, an anthropomorphized six-year-old bear and Peter’s big sister—and she means it pejoratively as well as descriptively. Delineating Peter’s babyish ways also lets her cite all the ways she is more mature and sophisticated. “Peter is just a baby, and he puts everything in his mouth.... even his foot,” writes Russo (A Very Big Bunny). “Not me. The only thing I put in my mouth is food.” Of course, it helps if one’s grandmother is French (or at least a Francophile); with help from her beret-wearing tutor, the narrator learns to say “Bon appetit!” before eating and “Quel dommage!” when disappointed, which is “much more dramatic than ‘too bad’ and always gets attention.” This worldly-wise and ultimately accepting attitude, combined with the parallel story of learning French (a short glossary opens the book), gives an otherwise typical tale of sibling rivalry a stylish, refreshing twist. If Russo’s cheery, naïf gouache pictures don’t quite keep up with her Continentally inclined heroine’s considerable élan, it’s still a spot-on portrait of an older sibling’s benevolent frustration. Ages 3–6. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Baby Peter's six-year-old sister didn't get her birthday wish because she only blew out four of her five candles on her fifth birthday. She wanted a baby sister. Because Peter is just a baby, he can only say "baba" when he wants his bottle and "dada" when he sees his daddy. His sister can ask for a "manicure" or "pie-a-la-mode" and count to three in French. Her grandma is teaching her. Grandma calls Peter her "petit chou" (little cabbage). Baby Peter makes a terrible mess when he eats, mashing his peas with his spoon and getting tomato sauce on his nose or sometimes his toes. His big sister balances peas on her tongue and twirls spaghetti on her fork without getting a speck of sauce on her nose. She says "Bon appetit" before she eats. Though Peter can only crawl like a turtle, Sister can run and leap and skip, not to mention do pirouettes in the living room. French is the language of ballet so she dreams of being a ballerina when she grows up. Peter does other baby stuff, like putting things in his mouth other than food or a toothbrush—for example, his foot or his rubber ducky. He cries over everything—or so it seems to his big sister. But then he has his first birthday and his sister helps him enjoy it. She puts on his party hat, opens his presents and blows out his candle. She even makes a wish for him. She hopes that, now he is a year old, he will do the things she wants him to do, or maybe she will have to wait until he is two. A sweet story with a nice way to introduce foreign words to young children, the French words are defined and pronounced at the front of the book. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—An unnamed big sister compares her abilities to those of her younger brother. An accomplished six-year-old, she proudly details her many talents, including dancing and speaking some French, which her grandma has been teaching her (French words are sprinkled throughout and the book features a short glossary). Baby Peter, on the other hand, is a typical one-year-old who crawls, makes messes, and puts everything in his mouth. Russo's characteristic bright gouache vignettes convey the siblings' trials and tribulations with cheerful humor. Stylized but expressive, the illustrations depict a wide range of feelings, from the sister's frustration with the baby's antics to quiet pride in helping her little brother at his birthday party to her resolve in waiting for him to grow up. Though the family members are depicted as bears, children with younger siblings will have no trouble identifying with the heroine.—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
A precocious big sister is unimpressed by her baby brother in this slice-of-life picture book on sibling dynamics. Russo's cheery gouache paintings depict a world of anthropomorphic bears in which the unnamed narrator rattles off her own accomplishments, comparing baby Peter unfavorably to herself. Doting parents and a Francophone grandmother shower love on both cubs, and Grandma even teaches her French. She uses her bilingual vocabulary to order apple pie à la mode and later to convey her dismay when chicken pox prevent her from attending a birthday party: "Quel dommage!" She expresses this same sentiment when ruefully recalling how she'd wished for a baby sister, not a brother, but by book's end, Peter turns 1, and his big sister imagines all of the things he'll be able to do as he gets older. While lacking in drama and not breaking much ground in the well-worn new-baby arena, it is refreshing to see a title that stretches the emotional range of the older sibling in such stories. This little girl is not wracked with jealousy; she's just a little disappointed and unimpressed by her brother since he's "just a baby." For families who are just as happy to do without sturm und drang in their new-baby books, this is just the ticket. (Picture book. 4-6)
Pamela Paul
The narrator's experiences with her baby brother…are …captured with convincing disdain…Russo flawlessly conveys the smug superiority of the 6-year-old sister, lording over her baby sibling in the baldly jealous spirit of Frances the badger.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802853844
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 11/11/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,405,989
  • Age range: 3 - 6 Years
  • Lexile: 640L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Marisabina Russo is the author of numerous picture books, including A Very Big Bunny (Schwartz & Wade) and Always Remember Me (Athaneum), which was named an ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book. She has also written two young adult novels. Marisabina lives in New York. Visit her website at
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Read an Excerpt

Peter Is Just a Baby

By Marisabina Russo

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2012 Marisabina Russo
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5384-4

Chapter One

Peter is my brother, and he's just a baby.

He can only say baby words like "baba" when he wants his bottle and "dada" when he wants Daddy.

Not me.

I can say grown-up words like "manicure" when I want Mama to put pink polish on my nails,

and "skyscraper" when I build a tall tower out of blocks.

I can even count to three in French — un, deux, trois — and ask for apple pie à la mode.

That's because my grandma has been teaching me French. She tries to teach Peter too, but he just says "baba" again. Then Grandma laughs and calls him her petit chou. Petit chou means "little cabbage" in French.

Peter is just a baby, and he's a very sloppy eater.

He mashes peas with his spoon.

He gets tomato sauce on his nose.

Sometimes he even gets tomato sauce on his toes.

Not me.

I can balance peas on my tongue.

I can twirl spaghetti around and around my fork without getting a drop of sauce on my nose.

And right before I start to eat, I always say "Bon appétit!"

Peter is just a baby, and he can't even walk yet. He crawls like a little turtle.

Not me.

I can run.

I can leap.

I can skip.

Sometimes I even do pirouettes around the living room like a real ballerina.

Ballerinas use lots of French words.

That's one of the reasons I'm going to be a ballerina when I grow up.

Peter is just a baby, and he puts everything in his mouth.

His truck.

His rubber duck.

And even his foot.

Not me.

The only thing I put in my mouth is food.

And my toothbrush.

Actually, sometimes I put the end of a pencil in my mouth, if I'm thinking really hard. And then when I get a good idea, I say "Aha!"

"Aha" isn't a French word, but I think French people probably say it too when they get good ideas. Grandma does.

Peter is just a baby, and he cries all the time.

When he wants to get out of his car seat.

Or his snowsuit.

Or his dirty diaper.

Not me. I only cry about really important things.

Like scraping my knee.

Or saying good-bye to my cousin at the airport.

Or missing my best friend's birthday party because I've got the chicken pox.

Then I cry and cry and say "Quel dommage!" which means "too bad" in French. It's much more dramatic than "too bad" and always gets attention.


Excerpted from Peter Is Just a Baby by Marisabina Russo Copyright © 2012 by Marisabina Russo. Excerpted by permission of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. 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.

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