About Since the Baby Came:
This charming, playful story-in-verse introduces children to a variety of poetic forms while walking them through all the twists and turns of welcoming a new baby into the family.
Since the Baby Came follows the perspective of a young girl as she navigates becoming a big sister. In this humorous, heartfelt story, Kathleen Long Bostrom explores all the emotions that come with a new baby in the family–from excitement to frustration to joy. Each poem focuses on one step in the journey, starting with the announcement of the baby and moving all the way to the big sister’s acceptance of her brother. Though she faces the rocky transition of constant noise and the perils of dirty diapers, the girl comes to discover how much she truly loves this loud, silly, and adorable baby.
Each poem in the book is fun to read aloud, and the humor paired with relatable themes makes it a winning book. Since the Baby Came entertains but also shares real emotions, helping kids to learn that all of their feelings are okay. Kathleen Long Bostrom also creates a cozy place for kids to discover that although babies can change a lot in a family, those changes can be just as wonderful as they are scary.
What I loved about this book:
1. The beautifully empathetic themes:
As I mentioned above, Kathleen Long Bostrom tackles the full range of emotions kids might experience when a new baby enters the scene. By showing us the story through the girl’s perspective, Long Bostrom gives an authentic and relatable voice to the emotions. Her main character deals with each feeling as it comes, never having it explained away or belittled. Instead, the girl deals with her feelings through prayer and through a growing appreciation of her baby brother’s good qualities.
Long Bostrom balances poems focused on the more negative feelings of frustration, impatience, and sadness with humor that both children and parents will surely enjoy. The humor lightens the tougher topics while still highlighting the challenges the big sister is going through. In every way, Kathleen Long Bostrom shows a keen understanding of kids and the way they think and laugh and love.
2: The clever use of a wide variety of poetic forms:
The range of poetic forms in Since the Baby Came surprised and delighted me. Long Bostrom included typical forms you would expect in a collection for kids such as a haiku and a limerick. However, she also incorporated more complicated forms such as a quatrain and a roundel (a poem with eleven lines and three stanzas). These more advanced forms add a wonderful diversity in tone and structure which keeps each page exciting and unique.
The styles of poetry perfectly match the mood and content of each scene in the story. For example, I was impressed by how Kathleen Long Bostrom chose a villanelle for her piece “When Will This Baby Go Away?” Villanelles are tricky to write, especially due to the repetition of the first and third lines in specific places throughout the whole poem. These refrains can be difficult to write without sounding clichéd or redundant. Yet, Long Bostrom uses this repetition naturally to build the sense of frustration the girl is experiencing.
“When will this baby go away?
He’s all mixed up with day and night.
Don’t tell me that he’s here to stay.”
The refrains she chose are true to life. How often do kids (and even adults) repeat questions and phrases to themselves or their parents when they’re upset? By this simple repetition, we’re drawn deeper into the story and the girl’s frame of mind.
However, my favorite poem of the book remains “I Love My Brother”, where Kathleen Long Bostrom uses nonsense verse. Who doesn’t love a good made-up phrase?
“I Love My Baby Brother” excerpt:
“I love his gabble babble
and his piggle wiggle toes,
his nuzzly fuzzly noggin
and his wheezle sneezle nose.”
I could read this poem aloud over and over all day.
3. The rich and vibrant illustrations:
Every time I review a picture book, I always end up discussing the beauty of the illustrations. The stunning artwork in Since the Baby Came is no exception. Janet Samuel’s soft but bright colors bounce off the page in a flurry of motion. She brilliantly captures the busyness of a house with a new baby, in lively pictures rich with detail. I love how the background expressions on the toys and the dog reflect and complement the mood of the girl on each page.
I’m always amazed by how artists build on the words of the story to capture it more fully. In Samuel’s case, she adds an air of playfulness to each poem. Toys stretch and frown and smile. Salt and pepper shakers appear as ghosts. Even the image on the girl’s t-shirt comes to life during the first poem. The loving detail of the illustrations gives the reader something fun to discover with every page turn.
Also, if you’d like to know the sweet story behind the dog in the illustrations, be sure to check out our previous interview with Kathleen Long Bostrom. You can learn more about the book and find a sneak preview and parent resources (coming soon) on Waterbrook & Multnomah’s website.
To end, I want to share an exciting contest! We’re giving away two copies of Kathleen Long Bostrom’s Since the Baby Came. To enter to win, comment on this post by 6pm on May 9. If you share this on social media, tell me what you did and I’ll enter your name twice!
Karley Conklin is a librarian by day, a writer by night, and a bookworm 24/7. Her goal is to use the power of stories to remind others of hope and joy in a world that all too often forgets both.