STARRED REVIEW
April 11, 2019

Babymoon

By Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Review by

In Hayley Barrett’s Babymoon, a new mother and father shut out the world in more ways than one (“SEE YOU SOON,” a sign on their front door declares) and delight in the newborn addition to their young family. In rhyming text that is marked by tenderness and flows as smooth as a lullaby, Barrett describes the delicate “dance of give-and-take” that is acclimating to a new baby. Her phrasing captures the boot camp that is early parenthood, marked as it is by fatigue and a “tentative and awkward grace”—but also by abundant love.

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In Hayley Barrett’s Babymoon, a new mother and father shut out the world in more ways than one (“SEE YOU SOON,” a sign on their front door declares) and delight in the newborn addition to their young family. In rhyming text that is marked by tenderness and flows as smooth as a lullaby, Barrett describes the delicate “dance of give-and-take” that is acclimating to a new baby. Her phrasing captures the boot camp that is early parenthood, marked as it is by fatigue and a “tentative and awkward grace”—but also by abundant love.

Newly-minted Caldecott honoree Juana Martinez-Neal depicts a brown-skinned family, the parents spelling out “Mami” and “Daddy” in board game tiles as they adjust to these “brand-new names.” She doesn’t shy from showing the parents’ fatigue. The mother gives her body over to the child as shown in one eloquent breastfeeding spread, yet she never lets the exhaustion trump the joy.

There are a lot of comforting curves in Martinez-Neal’s sure and gentle lines and velvety-soft illustrations. All the circles, including the one the family of three forms on the cover as the parents shelter the baby, communicate wholeness, commitment and love. Martinez-Neal also adds subtle humor to many spreads in the form of a dog and cat, who look warily at the babe who temporarily displaced them.

With heartfelt honesty, both Barrett and Martinez-Neal refrain from painting a saccharine portrait of new parenthood, and toddlers old enough to sit and listen to this story will delight in considering the ways in which their parents cared for them during their first years.

 

Julie Danielson conducts interviews and features of authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children's literature blog primarily focused on illustration and picture books.

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Babymoon

Babymoon

By Hayley Barrett, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Candlewick
ISBN 9780763688523

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