written by Susanna Leonard Hill
illustrated by Nicole Rutten
Walker & Company
Hardcover PB 32p
As Rose anxiously awaits the birth of her family’s new baby, she isn’t sure what to expect about her new role as big sister. She isn’t sure whether she wants a baby brother or a baby sister. Actually, she isn’t sure she wants a new baby at all! But when the new baby arrives, suddenly everything seems just right.
Susanna Leonard Hill’s text perfectly captures the excitement and apprehension of children anticipating the arrival of a new baby, and Nicole Rutten’s sweet hamster characters make this an ideal story for siblings-to-be.
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Hill beautifully portrays the seesawing emotions a young mouse feels in the transition time before becoming a big sister. Rose just cannot wait for her mother to have her baby. On Monday, Rose wants a sister, with whom she can do all her favorite things . . . but she worries that perhaps a sister would be too much like her. On Tuesday, Rose would rather have a brother, who would be different. On Wednesday she doesn’t want a baby at all. Her mother’s talk of being the big sister does not change her mind. Thursday’s discussion with her father clarifies for Rose what babies do, but she still isn’t sure she wants one. And on Friday her baby brother is born. As Rose holds him in her arms, all her fears and worries evaporate in the wonderfulness that is a new baby. Rutten’s watercolor-and-pencil artwork sweetly portrays the bundle of conflicting feelings that is Rose. Her expressive face and body language make her every emotion plain. Brightly colored pictures contrast with the blue-toned illustrations that represent Rose’s imaginings. A solid addition to the new-baby shelf. (Picture book. 3-7)
Every morning, a young hamster races into her parents’ bedroom and asks, “Is the baby here yet?” and each time they answer, “Not yet.” Rose can’t decide whether she wants a sister or a brother, and at one point she decides that she doesn’t want a baby at all, but her mother brings her around to the idea that she’ll probably like being a big sister. Dad describes the nurturing that babies require and reminds his daughter that she was once an infant who needed and received loving care, too. When a brother is born, she carefully holds him, marvels at how tiny he is, and sings to him until he falls asleep in her arms. The book ends neatly with Rose’s parents asking if her arms are tired and she replies, “Not yet.” Hill presents adults who encourage their daughter to process her feelings and come to her own conclusions. The narrative’s pacing and structure are ideal, with the story and life lessons beginning on Monday and ending on Friday. Rutten’s cheery watercolor illustrations, depicting the hamsters’ life in their cozy country cottage and later in the hospital, are infused with subtle, appropriate humor. With its thoughtful text and playful art, this book gently helps older siblings confidently adjust to their new roles.
School Library Journal
A charming getting-ready-for-a-new-sibling story, Hill’s latest book stars a little girl hamster who has many opinions before the baby is born. First, Rose wants it to be a girl, then a boy, then a baby doesn’t sound like any fun at all. Hill captures the small, very human anxieties of this uncertain time; for instance, after her brother is born but before she meets him, she is “very quiet” but wonders to herself about whether she and her brother will like each other. Rutten’s watercolor-and-pencil illustrations convey the warm family feeling in Rose’s house, and the unfinished edges of the scenes show off life as a work in progress. Rutten captures Rose’s wariness as well as her cheerfulness; she also sneaks a nice tint of purple into nearly every picture. The last page uses the book’s refrain to good effect. After repeatedly being told that the baby isn’t here yet, Rose gets to tell her parents if she’s ready to stop holding and rocking and singing to her new brother: “Not yet,” ~ Abby Nolan