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Lazy Little Loafers

Lazy Little Loafers

by Susan Orlean, G. Brian Karas (Illustrator)

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Orchid Thief comes a smart, hilarious take on what babies contribute—or don’t—to the world.

Ever experienced stroller envy? Ever wished you were applauded just for walking across a room? Ever wanted to loaf about the park on a blanket in the middle of a school day with


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Orchid Thief comes a smart, hilarious take on what babies contribute—or don’t—to the world.

Ever experienced stroller envy? Ever wished you were applauded just for walking across a room? Ever wanted to loaf about the park on a blanket in the middle of a school day with nothing on your agenda but being relaxed and happy? Then you should be a baby. They’ve got it made.

In this charming, droll story, a world-weary older sister ponders the question, why don’t more babies work? Her answers, hilariously tinged with resentment, offer up a wickedly accurate picture of just how great babies have it.

Known for her keen and witty observations of various subcultures, Susan Orlean here turns her gaze on babies. The resulting picture book is tongue-in-cheek fun for older siblings and anyone looking for a lazy, praise-filled day.

F&P Level: L
F&P Genre: RF

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

You don't have to be a genius to realize that babies are just lazy," complains the peeved, thoroughly cosmopolitan young heroine at the start of Orlean's first children's book (after her well-received adult titles, The Orchid Thief and Saturday Night), expanded from a 1996 New Yorker "Shouts and Murmurs" piece.But as our girl walks through the heart of Manhattan on her way to school, readers will quickly realize that her argument is colored by a classic case of displacement: the baby who exemplifies all that's wrong with babyhood is in fact her little brother. Clearly, no one cares that she's lugging the world's biggest backpack (a sublime visual joke) or that babies get to hang out "mostly naked" in Central Park ("all loafing around and looking as happy as clams") while big kids like her are "hard at work taking tests, giving book reports, and figuring out tough math questions." Karas (Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!) matches the wry text with deadpan cartoons of jaded babies ferried in limousines or beaming as they lounge in strollers, and his handsome palette of browns and golds (with a little photo-collage thrown in for punctuation) captures Manhattan in all its autumnal glory. Obviously, life isn't so bad-but to the team's great credit, the book ends neither with the narrator capitulating nor with a poignant reconciliation between siblings. One of the wittiest new-baby-in-the-family books of recent years. Ages 5-8. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
From the point of view of an annoyed older sister, babies are just "lazy little loafers." She wonders why, with so many jobs to be done in the world, babies don't do any work. She notes indignantly that they are lazy, even snobby. In a text filled with wry humor, Orlean has her narrator comment bitterly on baby activities like babbling, attempting to walk, and passing happy days in the park while she must go off to a hard day at school. She claims to be "researching" this topic with a baby, who must be her sibling, trying to persuade him to think about "getting a job." Needless to say, she has no success. Her conclusion: Babies don't work because they're too smart! Karas uses gouache, acrylic with pencil and photo collages to create highly detailed scenes of the world babies rule. His cartoonish style makes us smile while reading this spectacular, vivid book. Interesting extraneous details make it difficult not to slow down to note them: posters on a wall, a mixed parade of strollers down a park path, a trio of leashed dogs, and more. The cover alone, with fifteen little ones lazing about as our narrator states her case, demands our amused attention. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

Gr 1-3

A child speculates on the role of babies in the world. She gets right to the point on page one as she asks, "Why don't...babies work?" The rest of the story involves her research conducted on her baby brother, as well as on the babies she meets on her travels. She finds them to be lazy little loafers who enjoy snacking and lying around. All the while, kids her age are struggling to make their beds, study for tests, and solve math problems. How do the babies get away with it? As the youngster heads off to school, leaving her little brother and mom in the park, she decides that the reason is obvious. Orlean's reserved wit will be best appreciated by observant, inquisitive kids who harbor the slightest bit of cynicism in their little souls. Karas's gouache and acrylic cartoons reinforce the notion that babies are not silly and cute, but rather happy and lazy. This is a good one-on-one read for any youngster who has wondered why the baby doesn't have to go to school.-Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO

Kirkus Reviews
Struggling off to school beneath a huge backpack, a disgruntled child fulminates about how her urban world seems filled with babies lolling idly about. Following a particular specimen (who turns out to be her own sibling), she delivers acid comments about infants sporting sunglasses, learning to walk-"Is it possible they don't work but still go out for a three-bottle lunch and get a little tipsy?"-and spending long days hanging out in Central Park. Well-decorated with baby ads and posters, Karas's paint-and-photocollage street scenes form a backdrop for squads of happy toddlers and leave the narrator, who ruefully concludes that babies really don't work because they're too smart, peering out of the school door as a passing rugrat delivers a Bronx cheer. A chuckle-inducing rant in the fine old tradition of Martha Alexander's Nobody Asked Me If I Wanted A Baby Sister (1971). (Picture book. 6-8)

Product Details

Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
3 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Susan Orlean is a longtime staff writer for the New Yorker and the author of several books, including The Orchid Thief, which was the inspiration for the movie Adaptation. She’s currently working on a book about the canine hero Rin Tin Tin. She divides her time between upstate New York and Southern California. G. Brian Karas has written and illustrated several award-winning children’s books, including On Earth and Home on the Bayou: A Cowboy’s Story, a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book. He also illustrated Are You Going to Be Good?, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book. He lives in Milan, New York.

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