Ready, Set . . . Baby by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Qin Leng
With Ready, Set . . . Baby! Elizabeth Rusch has written an innovative book for soon-to-be-big-siblings aged three and up. Part story, with siblings Anna and Oliver narrating the story of life with a new baby, part practical "what to expect" and "how to" advice and instructions, and part graphic novel with lots of speech bubbles, Ready, Set . . . Baby! is a book can be (should be) read over and over, before and after the arrival of the new baby
What I love most (and appreciate as someone who reads picture books out loud) is the honest humor that Rusch infuses Ready, Set . . . Baby! with. Parents are prone to hyping the new baby to sibs before arrival, forgetting that children have a very different understanding of time than adults. Like Dad in the illustration above, asking the kids if they are excited for a new playmate. The reality of the situation is that the baby won't be a genuinely engaging playmate for a few years or more. In another smartly observant section titled, "Meet the Conehead," Anna and Oliver tell readers that the new baby DOES NOT look like their baby dolls. She has a "conehead and red, wrinkly skin with little bumps all over her face."
There are also realistic looks at baby poop, with Anna and Oliver copiloting the changing of the baby. They also tell readers about the umbilical cord and how it will fall off. Having three kids with significant age gaps, I especially appreciated the pages where Anna and Oliver tell readers that lots of gifts will arrive, but "don't get your hopes up," it's all for the baby. They also offer suggestions on what to do while "everyone stares at the baby." Ready, Set . . . Baby! also has Anna and Oliver offering great advice about how to hold the baby, how to understand the baby and know when she is hungry or sleepy or bored and four pages on how to entertain the baby - without touching her. The final pages are dedicated to bedtime routines for the big siblings and baby, followed by some helpful backmatter. Rusch includes tips for parents on "life with big kids and new babies," websites and books, including a favorite of mine, The Big Sibling Book: Baby's First Year According to ME by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, an fantastically talented, creative, diverse kid's (and adult) book author. I love guided journals and I think that a guided journal for big siblings is a superb way to include them in the life of the new arrival while also starting the bonds of a positive sibling relationship, which I learned in my years of parenting is not something that just automatically happens...
Source: Review Copy