Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Baby That Roared

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

Title: The Baby That Roared

Author/Illustrator: Simon Puttock/Nadia Shireen

Publisher: Candlewick/Nosy Crow

Year: 2012

Genre: Fiction picture book

Ages: 3+

Themes: New baby/Siblings; Problem-solving

Opening: Mr. and Mrs. Deer had no baby of their own to love and cuddle and read stories to… But, oh! — how they wished that they did! Then one day, the found a bundle on the doorstep. The bundle had a note attached, which said: “I am a dear little baby. Please love me and cuddle me and read me lots and lots of stories.”

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) When Mr. and Mrs. Deer find a little antlered bundle on the doorstep, Mrs. Deer thinks their wish for a baby has come true; Mr. Deer thinks that the baby is very, very peculiar. It won’t stop roaring, so they ask advice from friends and family, who in turn send them off to fetch what they think the baby needs. But each time Mr. and Mrs. Deer return home from an errand, someone is missing and the baby is still roaring. It takes wise old Granny Bear to spot the problem. The baby’s not a baby – it’s a little monster! A very hungry monster at that. . . .

What makes it great: I always love books where the reader knows (or suspects) something the main characters don’t. This one is a silly and engaging look at life with a new baby — who turns out not to be a baby at all.

What readers notice: My 3-year-old loves pointing out that the hungry little monster has eaten Uncle Duncan, Auntie Agnes, and Doctor Fox who all come to give advice, but then suddenly disappear. At the end, when Mr. and Mrs. Deer adopt a little kitten (which is actually the monster, come back in disguise) she collapses into giggles. My 7-year-old, predictably, loves the giant BURP the monster gives, spitting out all the animals he has eaten and revealing himself as a monster.

What a writer notices: This book has a really effective use of repeated phrases to build tension in the story. For example:

Each time the Deers call on a friend for help, the friend replies with the phrase:

A baby? A dear little baby? I shall come at once!

Each time the Deers are sent away on an errand (fetching milk or diapers), they are told to “run along”

Each time the Deers return to find the friend missing, the phrase is:

How very peculiar! [Friend’s name] had disappeared and the baby was still roaring.

The establishment of this pattern makes it all the more humorous and surprising when the pattern is broken. And the fact that it is broken with a giant burp is just icing on the cake.

Also, it’s a minor point, but I love the way the author named the characters. While some of the animal characters have their animal names (Mr. and Mrs. Deer, Doctor Fox, Granny Bear) others do not (Uncle Duncan is an owl, Auntie Agnes a bunny). This makes the story feel unique.

Links to Resources: 

Candlewick provides a wonderful “Story Hour Kit” for this and several other books, including activities for younger and older children, as well as paper cutouts.

http://www.candlewick.com/book_files/9999999911.kit.10.pdf

26 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Baby That Roared

  1. Thankyou Carrie for bringing this book to my attention. I think as a writer I could learn alot from this. The repeated phrasers and the building of tension and the problem before it is resolved. I seem to always learn something when I come here. Great book with lots of fun moments that I am sure kids will laugh especially since they have an idea of whats happening. Thanks again Carrie.

    • Thanks, Diane- I do like looking at the structure of the books my kids and I enjoy and figuring out how the writer created the story. I often find things I can apply in my own work.

  2. I too like your writerly comments. It’s interesting what you say about naming as I have had people criticize me for doing just that! FUNNY story, thank you.

  3. I did pick up this book at our library, mainly because I found the cover ambiguous and the title funny. I enjoyed it, but I am pretty sure I would have voted for a different cover if I were on the marketing team! Nice review – you captured it really well Carrie.

  4. Great review Carrie. I read this one over and over and I must say it finally grew on me, but I almost found it too wordy, and the cover and title did little for me as well. But you are spot on about letting the reader be a step ahead, and that is what kept me going with this one. And I loved the ‘comeback’!

  5. You do such a great job of pointing out the writer’s devices that make you like this book. As a writer, this is so helpful to me. I didn’t know about this book before and will look for it.
    BTW, I bought WHEN BLUE MET EGG based upon your recommendation, Carrie, and I love it. Thanks!

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