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BABY'S GOT THE BLUES by Carol Diggory Shields Kirkus Star


by Carol Diggory Shields ; illustrated by Lauren Tobia

Pub Date: March 11th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3260-1
Publisher: Candlewick

A baby sings the blues, naming his many woes in each verse: wet diapers, mushy meals, legs that don’t walk quite yet and nap time in a crib that feels more like a cage.

Baby endures misery after little misery, while his nearly featureless face relays astonishment, mute pleading and chagrined surrender. Who wants to be stuck in a sling on someone’s back, anyway? Older siblings might finally find some empathy for the babies in their lives—and a few laughs too. The brilliant incongruity of a baby and blues music (usually featuring soured romance, bum luck and booze) hits all the right comedic notes. Baby’s refrain, repeated after each demoralizing episode, howls out for a singalong: B-A-B-Y, baby, Got those…baby blues. Tobia’s pen-and-ink illustrations beg for repeat visits too, with their refreshing portrayal of a bustling urban family. This mama, sporting a tattoo, tank top and a messy ponytail, takes big sister and baby to a pizza-place play date and then a walk along New York City’s High Line. Eye-squinting details (polka dots on the underside of a stuffed bunny’s ears, a paisley pattern on a blanket, etc.) and vivid colors energize these wonderfully ordinary scenes of moms and small children.

A final verse brings lots of kisses and a smile to baby’s face—an unusual end to a blues song, but perfect for this ballad about an infant’s everyday frustrations.

(Picture book. 2-6)