* A New York Public Library “100 best Books” of the Year
* An Oppenheim Toy Portfolio “Gold Award” 2001
* CCBC “Choice Award” 2001
“In this reassuring, emotionally on-target book . . . a father recalls for his preschooler the many feelings she experienced when her new baby brother arrived and her world changed forever.” – PARENTING magazine
“Delightful!” —-The Boston Herald
“Harris and Emberley return with another sensitive and visually sumptuous portrayal of a family milestone. Emberley creates warm, intimate pictures. By frequently framing the action at the girl’s level, he captures the full force of her stormy emotions.” —Publisher’s Weekly, starred review
“A reassuring look at a familiar family experience”– New York Public Library
This a sequel to another book project, Happy Birthday!, with long time collaborator, Robie Harris. And it was the last time I will ever do a book like this again. Not a book on babies – I love babies!Just not another book in this particular art technique which depends on photographic reference. It’s not so much the effort of creating the art, but the editing and corrections that became impossible. We always wanted these two “BABY books” to be “accurate”, but it became overly complicated because of the inflexible technique I had boxed myself into.
This book was a sequel and so I could not change techniques. And when using photographs, you are limited to the reference materials you have. If you try to get away with not using a photograph, it shows. For some reason, using photography to make illustrations gives the illustrations a certain look that is instantly recognizable (to an illustrator anyway. But I think everyone notices it whiteout realizing what they are seeing). It will just look different, off, bad, whatever, if you mix techniques. And no matter how many hundreds of photos you take, you never seem to have that one shot that would enable you to create the scene everyone wants.
Now if it were my book alone it would be an easier matter. I could work around it. But when it is a collaborative project and there are many people involved and accuracy is paramount, then it becomes a drag. I knew this was coming though and made things as pleasant as possible for myself by moving to London for the summer and working in studio space in the Walker Books offices (Candlewick Press’s British sister company) The art director working on the book was in London so we could work together. An incredibly generous friend allowed me the use of their home overlooking Hampstead Heath. And I must say, that between those two locations (and the Walker local, The Lavender) (Ed. note for Americans: Local is slang for your closest and most frequented neighborhood pub, or bar…) I found the peace of mind to get me through.
For the image of a very angry girl clenching her teddy bear, I had to improvise and draw my own eyes in a mirror to get the look I was after. I then adapted the sketch for the art. You can see my “angry eyes” in the close up of the illustration above.
The family represented in the book incidentally, is the same one as in the book Happy Birthday! The girl character is the baby in the previous book, the parents, mum and dad, and grandma and grandpa, are all based on a real people – another family album.Here the dad, Ray, is cuddling his daughter, the baby from the previous book. she is unconsciously reflecting the very complex emotions commonly experienced when a new baby arrives, particularly the notorious “second child”.
You’ll notice in the image below, the mum is breast feeding. in the previous book, Happy Birthday!, Robie Harris and I included an image of the mum breast feeding her baby right after birth. I did not think too much about it at the time. Not being too involved in the politics of nursing advocacy, I had noexperience with the politics of nursing advocacy, but we were lauded after publication by breast feeding advocates for including such images in a book for children, and for depicting it in an unsentimental, yet natural manner. Apparently it is rare or unusual at best to depict breast feeding in children’s books, or was at the time.
To me it was perfectly normal. Something the kids in the family would be seeing a lot of, particularly on the first day a new baby arrives, so it just made sense to show this as part of the experience. Lack of awareness on my part turned out to be a good thing in this case.