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There's Going to Be a Baby
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There's Going to Be a Baby

4.5 2
by John Burningham, Helen Oxenbury (Illustrator)

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In a first-time creative pairing, two of the world’s most treasured picture book creators offer a truly delightful book for new-siblings-to-be.

When is the new baby coming? What will we call it? What will he do? We don’t really need a baby, do we? With sensitivity and wit, John Burningham follows the swirl of questions in the mind of a young child


In a first-time creative pairing, two of the world’s most treasured picture book creators offer a truly delightful book for new-siblings-to-be.

When is the new baby coming? What will we call it? What will he do? We don’t really need a baby, do we? With sensitivity and wit, John Burningham follows the swirl of questions in the mind of a young child anticipating a baby sibling with excitement, curiosity, and just a bit of trepidation. In perfect tandem, Helen Oxenbury captures the child’s loving interactions with his mother — along with the fanciful future scenarios he imagines for the new family member he has yet to meet. Combining a warm, timeless story with illustrations both freshly enchanting and wonderfully nostalgic, this gorgeous book has all the hallmarks of a classic.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
On the heels of the pairing of Mem Fox and Oxenbury in Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, here's another dream-come-true matchup: Oxenbury and her husband. A little boy has learned that a sibling is on the way; as the seasons change and the mother's tummy expands, she and the boy engage in a fanciful dialogue on the subject of "What will the baby do?" It's an approach that could easily turn twee, but Burningham (It's a Secret!) makes it feel like an authentic portrayal of both an expectant mother's reveries and a firstborn's vacillating emotions. When the mother suggests that the baby could work at the zoo, the boy mischievously suggests that a tiger might eat the new arrival. Wordless intervening spreads picture the baby trying out the various career paths discussed--in this case, washing and feeding various animals. The handsome, clear-lined images may seem retro at first, but the crispness acts as a containing presence for displacement fears and a source of narrative momentum--all the while allowing Oxenbury to exercise the full power of her visual magic. Ages 2–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
When he hears that a baby will be arriving in the family, a young boy is full of the kinds of questions future siblings ask, such as when? what will we call it? and what will it do? As the family goes about its normal business, he is continually speculating on possible occupations for the baby, like chef in a restaurant they visit, or artist in the museum, or gardener in the park. Could the baby work in the zoo, be a sailor, work in a bank? He also considers the problems that might arise for each. "We don't really need the baby, do we?" is his typical, not unexpected question. Each full page speculation is followed by a double page of eight square scenes where the baby-to-come acts out the imagined activity in cartoon fashion. Finally, the boy and his grandfather are on their way to see his mother and the baby. "We're going to love the baby, aren't we?" is his hesitant but hopeful question, in this delightfully reassuring perfect story for big brothers or sisters. Sensitive naturalistic ink line drawings are colored naturally with thoughtful digital manipulations. There is a nude depiction in the bathtub. Ordinary events are presented with humor and charm. Monochromatic depictions of the future occupations cavort across the end pages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
A mother prepares her young son about the baby that is due to arrive in the fall. As time goes by, the mother and son talk about the baby (no father is present in the story). Based on his activities, the son asks questions about his future sibling. When dining at a restaurant, boy wonders if the baby will be a chef. At a museum, the boy pictures the baby as an artist and at the shore, he imagines the baby as a sailor. His feelings are mixed from excitement of having someone to play with to apprehension of someone who will make a mess. The illustrations include a comic strip-like set of pictures that reflect the boy’s perspective of what the baby will do. The end paper shows the different ideas that the boy has about his future sibling. When the baby is born, the boy and his grandfather go to visit the mother and the new arrival at the hospital. The story provides a sweet way to share the anticipated arrival of new sibling. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung; Ages 3 to 6.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—A wonderful collaboration by the renowned husband-and-wife team. As the winter snows arrive, a mother tells her young son that a new baby is on the way. "'When is the baby going to come?' he asks. His mom answers 'The baby will arrive when it's ready, in the fall, when the leaves are turning brown and falling.'" The remaining panels portray the conversations they have over the next several months as they anticipate the birth. The boy's emotions run from some initial anxiety ("'It will make a mess everywhere'") to realizing that he will perhaps have a new playmate to wondering if a new baby is really necessary. The illustrations alternate between mother-and-son talks at the park, the bank, the zoo, etc., with the youngster's fanciful imaginings of the baby at work and play. The artwork, done in ink with digital colorization, is classic Oxenbury and has a slightly retro feel in layout and palette. It is both sweet and comical at the same time. Overall, this lovely, oversize volume belongs in every new-baby collection.—Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews

Burningham and Oxenbury team for a poignant treatment of a preschooler's ambivalence about a forthcoming new sibling. The dialogue couples Mommy's benign suggestions about the baby's future exploits with her son's far less equivocal, here-and-now replies. She muses, "I wonder if the baby will work here at the zoo one day, looking after the animals." He rejoins (a twinge, one hopes), "Then the baby might get eaten by a tiger." The elegant text type (Polymer) is coolly pale for Mommy's comments, bold-faced for her boy's. The lovely ink drawings are digitally colored in flat, muted hues accented with rich reds. To dignify and celebrate the boy's robust imaginative flights, double-page spreads, each with eight panels reminiscent of old-timey comics, depict the baby painting messily, maneuvering a sailboat or raking leaves in Parks and Rec jammies. The seasons turn, Mommy gets bigger and, finally, Grandad and boy walk down a hospital corridor, gift and flowers in hand. Heavy paper, generous trim, amusing endpapers and, above all, beautifully evoked relationships combine for a winning package. (Picture book. 2-6)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.50(d)
AD610L (what's this?)
Age Range:
2 - 5 Years

Meet the Author

John Burningham, a two-time winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal, is the author- illustrator of many acclaimed picture books, including the Candlewick titles It’s a Secret and Harvey Slumfenburger’s Christmas Present. His work is also featured in the collectors’ volume John Burningham. He lives in London with his wife, Helen Oxenbury.

Helen Oxenbury, a winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal among many other awards, has illustrated such Candlewick books as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Big Momma Makes the World, Farmer Duck, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and So Much! She lives in London with her husband, John Burningham.

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Theres Going to Be a Baby 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
beadora More than 1 year ago
The charming illustrations compliment this story about a little boy's attempt to get his mind around the coming of a new baby into his up-to-now prerfect world. It is hysterically funny wathing the little fella imagine what the baby might be able to do and then what disasters will ensue. I loved this book!