John Burningham is widely regarded as one of the world's finest picture book artists. With over 35 books to his name, he has twice been awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal, for Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers and Mr Gumpy's Outing. Among his other celebrated books is Granpa, for which he was awarded the Kurt Maschler Award, and which was later made into a successful feature film. He lives in London. Helen Oxenbury is among the most popular and critically acclaimed illustrators of her time. Her numerous books for children include Smarties Book Prize-winning Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell; We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen; as well as her classic board books for babies. She won the Kate Greenaway Medal for Alice in Wonderland. She lives in London.
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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.