This Baby

Overview

Kate Banks’s lyrical poetry pairs with Gabi Swiatkowska’s playful dreamlike images to create this must-have book for all children who are about to be new siblings. 

While Mama’s busy knitting a wardrobe for her unborn baby, big sister is preparing in her own way: imagining, asking, wondering what this baby will like. As the seasons pass, this baby grows, too--and soon big sister will have the answers to all of her questions.

 

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Overview

Kate Banks’s lyrical poetry pairs with Gabi Swiatkowska’s playful dreamlike images to create this must-have book for all children who are about to be new siblings. 

While Mama’s busy knitting a wardrobe for her unborn baby, big sister is preparing in her own way: imagining, asking, wondering what this baby will like. As the seasons pass, this baby grows, too--and soon big sister will have the answers to all of her questions.

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A girl's questions about the baby growing inside her mother fall naturally into poetry, whose hand-lettered lines curl and twine through Swiatkowska's haunting paintings. "This baby,/ twisting, dipping/ kicking Mama's ribs./ Will this baby like the cat?" asks the baby's older sister-to-be, a grave girl in pigtails and red tights. "Knit, Mama, knit./ What will it be?/ A girl or a boy?/ Soon we'll see." In a conversation like this, the mother usually supplies reassurance; here, she sits knitting silently, radiating steadiness and affection, and the daughter, with characteristic older sisterish maturity, reassures her mother: "Will I like this baby?/ Will this baby like me?/ Knit, Mama, knit./ And soon we'll see." Swiatkowska (A Not Scary Story About Big Scary Things) pivots easily between the real and the magical; the sister imagines the deliciously plump, saggy-diapered baby sailing in a boat across her mother's knitting, then walking a tightrope made of the mother's yarn across a starry sky. Banks (The Eraserheads) acknowledges the gravity of children's thoughts and the depth of their love; it's a quiet, idiosyncratic celebration of new life. Ages 4–8. (July)
From the Publisher

“The charming, lyrical text reads like a lullaby…” --School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
As her mother knits, a young girl dreams and wonders about her forthcoming sibling, "...a tiny bud of life nestled in a womb." In a partly rhyming text with repeated theme, hand painted or done in chalk, she speculates on what the baby will like: red boots, singing, the sea, playing, the stars. "Will I like this baby? Will this baby like me? Knit, Mama, knit. And soon we'll see." The soothing text sometimes winds around the action. "This baby fluttering gently in Mama's belly like a leaf on a tree..." "This baby growing silently, rocking and swaying as Mama moves..." Opaque paints applied with vigor emphasize the animation of the sister-to-be's thoughts. Single and double pages picture the patient mother as well as the not-so-patient sibling. There is little in the way of setting; the focus is on the girl, her mother, and the girl's speculations on the future possibilities. This should be a great read-aloud for any child during the long wait for the birth of a sibling. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—From spring through winter, a girl wonders about the new baby that her mother is carrying. Time passes slowly and then seems to speed up as the due date comes closer. The child has many questions: "Will this baby like to play?...like the cat?" Will it be a boy or a girl, and will the siblings like each other? There are no definitive answers but all of the inquiries should prompt discussion. The charming, lyrical text reads like a lullaby while the mother knits and sews baby clothes, and includes a slight change in each refrain: "Knit, Mama, knit/to and fro./The birds are piping./Soon we'll know." The girl imagines the miracle of life in a sweet and endearing way. For example, one spread features a baby swathed in a green, leaflike cocoon with its face peeking out, and another shows the infant within a sphere representing the womb. The whimsical paintings are all saturated with color. This title provides a visual opportunity for light explanations and conversations about what occurs during those precious nine months without getting too specific or scientific.—Anne Beier, Clifton Public Library, NJ
Kirkus Reviews

In this lushly illustrated poem, a baby grows in the womb, while through the seasons the soon-to-be big sister wonders who this baby will become.

Banks begins each verse with a description of the baby's growth in utero. As flutters turn to kicks, the older child's questions represent seasonal changes: Will the baby like rain boots, spring leaves, the sea? But most importantly, "Will this baby like me?" The latter parts are thoughtful, lyrical and evocative, while the former half at times feels clunky. And while the lettering matches the aesthetic of the illustrations, it at times crowds Swiatkowska's stunning artwork. Worked in a rich, limited primary palette, her pieces are a wonderful mashup of Maira Kalman's playful compositions and linework and Peter Paul Rubens' sumptuous, romantic depictions of the human form. In her figures readers will feel the warmth of the baby's flesh, the softness of the skin. And although some of her brush strokes look raw or unfinished, every color gradation or mark is descriptive of either form or value. Her spreads are deceivingly sophisticated and absolutely dreamy. Unfortunately, while it seems that the images want to play across a wider format, the work is designed in an awkwardly vertical fashion, stifling the art.

While there are elements of brilliance, poor design decisions keep this title from reaching its full potential. (Picture book. 4-7)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374375140
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 7/5/2011
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 3 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Banks is the author of many books for children, among them Max’s Words, And If the Moon Could Talk, winner of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and The Night Worker, winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award. She grew up in Maine, where she and her two sisters and brother spent a lot of time outdoors, and where Banks developed an early love of reading. “I especially liked picture books,” she says, “and the way in which words and illustrations could create a whole new world in which sometimes real and other times magical and unexpected things could happen.” Banks attended Wellesley College and received her masters in history at Columbia University. She lived in Rome for eight years but now lives in the South of France with her husband and two sons, Peter Anton and Maximilian.
 
Gabi Swiatkowska has illustrated many notable books for children, including My Name is Yoon, for which she received the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award. She lives in France.

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