Baby, Sleepy Baby

Baby, Sleepy Baby
Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank
Walker Books

Exuding warmth and tenderness from every one of Angela Brooksbank’s illustrations is this lullaby.

Author Atinuke introduces the entire family on the title page and thereafter we see mother, father, a girl sibling and a grandmother, each of whom is shown cuddling the baby in the sequence of stunningly beautiful spreads that follow.

Although the narrative doesn’t rhyme it is lyrical: ‘Baby, sweet baby, / I’ll call on the winds // and you’ll sail like a ship / through the sky.’ it begins with infant on mother’s lap and big sister sharing the adult’s embrace.

The babe is then passed to Grandmother who bestows a kiss

then cuddles the little one with a fondness that is palpable.

We assume but it’s not certain who speaks on each spread,

although this reviewer suspects it is the person holding the little one: other readers might think differently but picture books can always open to more than one interpretation.

Once each family member has wrapped the baby in love

as well as allowing in turn, the wind, clouds, stars and moon to do likewise, everybody feels so calm and peaceful that sleep comes easily and they drift off to slumberland, with the little one between its mother and father.

Gentle, soothing and utterly gorgeous: what better book than this to give a family with a new baby.

Catch That Chicken!

Catch That Chicken!
Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank
Walker Books

Set in a West African village compound this is essentially Lami’s story. Lami has a special talent for catching chickens and everyone of the villagers knows she’s the best.

That’s not to say that her family and friends are without talents of their own – sister Sadia is a super speller,

brother Bilal is brave with bulls

and friend Fatima is a super-speedy plaiter of hair.

One day while chasing a chicken around the compound, Lami ignores the shouts of “Sannu! Sannu!”, “Slow down!” as she dashes madly towards and up the big baobab tree.

Suddenly as she makes a grab for the bird, Lami slips and comes hurtling to the ground where we see a painfully sprained and very puffy ankle and a very tearful little girl.

Some well-chosen words from her Nana Nadia result in a change in Lami’s chicken strategies but it’s one that proves that there’s more than one way to be an ace chicken catcher.

Once again team Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank have created a winning, enriching, gently humorous story, which shows the strong community spirit of Lami’s village wherein everyone is valued. Angela Brooksbank’s spirited scenes abound with colour, texture and pattern showing much about this particular way of life in West Africa.

A great book to add to the family shelves or foundation stage/KS1 classroom collections.

B is for Baby

B is for Baby
Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank
Walker Books

Here’s an absolutely cracking circular story that’s simply bursting with love. Atinuke’s verbal narrative focuses entirely on things starting with the letter B as she takes us on a journey through a West African rural landscape.
First though we meet the titular Baby; see her mother Beading her baby’s hair and Baby raiding the Banana basket, toppling in and partaking of some Breakfast.

Brother is next on the scene; in he bops and loads said basket complete with baby, on the back of his bicycle ready to go to visit Baba.

Oblivious to his stowaway passenger, he pedals along the Bumpy road towards Baba’s bungalow.

Passing beneath the Baobab – a Big one – they emerge into an area with fields either side; and a bird from the previous spread is now seen in full view with its gloriously coloured plumage – Beautiful – as is the blue butterfly that flies behind the bike, while ahead are trees filled with baboons.

As they pass under a tree a Baboon grabs the lid from the basket revealing the stowaway baby.

The journey continues with baby handing out a banana to a child leaning from the Bus window as they pause before crossing the Bridge (B is for Bridge) and before long they arrive as their destination: a Bougainvillea surrounded Bungalow outside which waits a happy-looking Baba … ‘B is for … Baba!’

That happiness increases enormously though when he opens the basket …

One shocked brother and an overjoyed Baba.

After all that there’s only one thing to do: sit down together and partake of some yummy snacks – ‘B is for Biscuit!’ as well as some bubbly bottled liquid refreshment; and I bet they polish off the whole lot.

A sensory delight if ever there was one, is this rural ride from one much loved family member to another. (The last two spreads show the return journey, which culminates back where the siblings started, and finally, a relieved-looking mama clutching tight her Baby.) Visually stunning, vibrant and infused with humour, the entire book is bursting with energy, warmth, rich colour and beauty.

A total treat to share and to pore over; an enriching must have for home, nursery or school collections and another terrific Atinuke/ Angela Brooksbank collaboration.

Baby Goes to Market

Baby Goes To Market
Atinuke and Angela Brooksbank
Walker Books

I love a good market and this one, located somewhere in West Africa, absolutely exudes atmosphere immersing readers in a multi-sensory experience so you can almost feel the heat and dust, smell the roasting sweetcorn and taste the juicy tomatoes.
We accompany a totally adorable baby and his mother as they wander through the hustle and bustle with Baby charming every stallholder they stop by. So much so that none can resist giving the lively little chap something.
From Mrs Ade it’s six bananas: one goes in Baby’s mouth, five in Mama’s large basket along with the yam she purchased.

Mr Femi offers juicy oranges: one Baby sucks on; four go into the basket. And so it goes on and all the while the cheerful little fellow is receiving bounties from the vendors: four biscuits, three roasted sweetcorn and two pieces of coconut.
Purchases complete, Mama hails a taxi; after all, she thinks, Baby must be a tad hungry after all that shopping. Putting down her basket to wait, she gets a very big surprise …

Then, reassured by the traders, Mama gets on the taxi and away it goes: Baby slumbering replete with goodies. “Poor Baby!” says Mama. “He’s not had a single thing to eat!

Essentially Atinuke’s zingy, patterned text is a shared joke between author and audience. The latter will relish the antics of Baby and savour Mama’s total unawareness of what is going on behind her back.
Angela Brooksbank captures all the vibrancy and excitement of a crowded tropical market: the rich, bright colours and patterns, the dusty byways, the goods for sale and those wonderfully observed characters.

I’ve signed the charter