Pull up a chair at this family’s joyful and very chaotic family dinner. Multiple generations are here—Grandma and Grandpa, Mommy and Papi, Brother and Sister, Tía and Tío, the dolly and the doggie—for an evening meal filled with their favorite foods: enchiladas, ravioli, meatballs and guacamole. But everyone’s favorite part of the meal? Passing the baby!
Passed around the table like a favorite dish, the baby is the rambunctious heart of Pass the Baby. Young readers will love to sing this picture book’s refrain, “Baby, baby, pass the baby!” as the baby is lifted above smiling faces with eager arms.
While author Susanna Reich’s bouncing rhymes flow (just as the baby does from hand to hand) and capture the ebullient joy of a large family meal, illustrator Raúl Colón performs the heavy lifting of bringing the story to life. In Colón’s artwork, the baby cannot be contained; the food is flying everywhere; messes that the dog is all too happy to clean up are made by flying arms and legs. Laughter or alarm appears on all the faces at the table, depending on who is next in the baby’s path. The call becomes one of necessity—pass the baby so Grandma can clean up the coffee the baby has spilled; pass the baby so she will stop piling cake and cookies, “very, very, VERY high”; pass the baby because her flailing legs just kicked Papi in the nose!
While the story possesses lovely verses, it could benefit from more regular pacing with the “pass the baby” refrain. Pass the Baby might be a bit too long for a group storytime read, but it will be excellent for any child who loves to take time enjoying a book’s illustrations. The strong duo of Reich and Colón bring this diverse, riotous family meal to life and will have readers asking for seconds, please.