Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Children's Book Review: 'MA! There's Nothing to Do Here' by Barbara Park

MA! There's Nothing to Do Here! 
A Word from Your Baby-in Waiting
by Barbara Park
illustrated by Viviana Garofoli
Random House Children's Books

When I regularly filled in as a host for the Pea Green Boat, I discovered that there are children's songs that are popular with children, but really loved by adults, and children's songs that were popular with adults, but really loved by children. Examples of the former would be “Little Potato” or “Little Chickadee,” whereas an example of the latter would be “The Hampster Dance.”

Barbara Park's new board book, MA! There's Nothing to Do Here! is clearly designed as a novelty book for expecting mothers, but young children (especially soon-to-be siblings) will likely enjoy it, too.

Subtitled A Word from Your Baby-in-Waiting, this story is written from the perspective of a child in utero. It has the rhythm and rhyme of a typical board book for toddlers, but, like the best children's television shows, also includes allusions to popular culture that will keep grown-ups entertained (e.g. “What's a baby to do in a womb with no view?” “And I'm totally bored with this dumb bungee cord.”).

Viviana Garofoli does a good job keeping the illustrations interesting considering that all of the action takes place in a very small contained space. The images of the baby in utero are displayed in different sizes and from different angles. Sometimes the mother's body is also pictured and sometimes it is not. And several illustrations show what the baby wishes s/he were doing, rather than where s/he currently is.

The cartoon images are bright and colorful and easily held the attention of the preschoolers and early elementary school students that I shared this book with. They enjoyed the story more than I expected them to as well. But the real target audience for this book is expectant parents – particularly parents expecting their first child, who will likely be enamored by the notion of their baby communicating with them before s/he is born:
Well, that's it, I guess.
I've got your address.
Kiss Pop for me, please...
And give him a squeeze.
I'll meet him soon, maybe!

Your Baby
Barbara Park is the author of the bestselling, critically acclaimed Junie B. Jones chapter books. Her middle-grade novels, which include Skinnybones, and The Kid in the Red Jacket, have won over 40 children's book awards. She has two grown sons, two small grandsons, and a medium-sized dog. She lives with her husband in Arizona.

Viviana Garofoli graduated in 1995 with a fine arts degree from Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes Prilidiano Pueyrredón, in her native Argentina, and has since worked as both a fine and commercial artist. Over the last 15 years, she has illustrated more than 20 children's books. She lives in Buenos Aires with her husband and two daughters.

Renée Vaillancourt McGrath has worked at Montana Public Radio as a program host since 2002. Her background is in librarianship and she currently works as a freelance editor, blogger, and website developer. Check out more of her book reviews at reneesreads.com.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Rénee for let me know the book was ell accepted between kids!

    I enjoyed a lot when I did it!

    best, Viviana