Candlewick Press, May 2003

Illustrated by Michael Emberley

When dear friends had a second baby, I was lucky enough to go to their house two days after the baby was born to meet the new baby. The new baby’s older sister, who was four and whom I had held in my arms when she was only two hours old, met me at the front door. She was riding a new tricycle and on her head was her baby hat. She told me her hat was the same hat she wore on the day she was born, and she asked me if I knew that there was NO room in her house for a new baby because… she was the baby in her house! She then took me to see the new baby, who was asleep in the bassinet, and asked me when he would do something — do anything! She then told me the new baby was really boring.

Right then and there, I was sure the things she said and the feelings she expressed were the beginnings of a book-the beginnings of a story about the strong, powerful and real feelings children have when suddenly they are no longer the baby in the family. Of course, as usual there was “research” to do. So that first week I checked in on her family and spent time with this “perfectly normal” and wonderful child. I observed her actions and wrote down her words. When it came time for the art, Michael’s art and my text were as usual shown to experts in infant and early-childhood development to make sure the text and art were accurate. Even though this picture book and HAPPY BIRTH DAY! are fiction, they both are based on the extraordinary and fascinating work about infancy and child development that has emerged over the past few years. As he did so beautifully in HAPPY BIRTH DAY!, Michael Emberley again captured in his stunning art the many and perfectly normal feelings most every sibling has when a new baby arrives.

  • Parenting Reading Magic Award
  • New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection
  • Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award 2000 Gold Seal Award

“Reprising the family first introduced in Happy Birth Day!, Harris and Emberley return with another sensitive and visually sumptuous portrayal of a domestic milestone: the arrival of a second child. This time it’s the father who narrates, as he tells the book’s heroine, an unnamed preschooler, about how she reacted to her rumpled-faced brother’s arrival. Initially, the big sister thinks he is “too noisy” and “boring.” But then she realizes that by comparison, she is downright mature (“That baby doesn’t have any teeth!…I have so-ooo many teeth. And I can brush all my teeth. That baby can’t!”) Working in full-bleed spreads in glowing peach tones, Emberley creates warm, intimate pictures (the audience is often just beyond the characters’ noses); by frequently framing the action at the girl’s eye level, he captures the full force of her stormy emotions. By the final page, the girl is sufficiently won over, enough to say “Hi new baby,” rock her brother and even savor the deliciousness of new baby smell. A sympathetic, credible approach to a reluctant sibling’s plight.”

-Publishers Weekly (starred review), September 18, 2000

“The family first introduced in Happy Birth Day! returns for a sensitive and visually sumptuous portrayal of a domestic milestone: the arrival of a second child.”

-Publishers Weekly (starred review), May 19, 2003

“In this reassuring, emotionally on-target book, with drawings reminiscent of family snapshots, a father recalls for his preschooler the many feelings she experienced when her new baby brother arrived and her world changed forever.”

-Parenting magazine, Reading Magic Award, December/January 2001

“A father tells his small daughter the story of how she reacted to her newborn baby brother from the moment she first saw him in the hospital through his first day at home. At first, the baby seemed strange to her because he slept a lot, cried a lot, and had no teeth. But once she realized the baby wasn’t going to take her place in the family, she warmed up to the idea of being a big sister. A second-person narrative is accompanied by marvelously realistic, often life-size oil pastel illustrations.”

-CCBC Choices 2001

“The best children’s books respect young people. They don’t oversimplify, demonize, or cute-ify. Judging from two titles that have recently come my way from Candlewick Press of Cambridge, Mass., someone – or several someones – have taken their mission as publishers of high quality juvenile books very seriously. Youngest audiences first. “Hi New Baby!” was written by Robie Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley with soft but realistic pictures of a family with a new baby. Told in the voice of the father, the story describes, in words and pictures, the perfectly natural progression of feelings that an older sibling goes through when a newborn kicks them out of their privileged position. Emberley’s illustrations are a welcome change from two types of art that often accompany facts-of-life books for children – the cartoon and the vaguely romantic. Though Emberley’s illustrations are done in loving detail, he doesn’t glamorize anyone. Both parents have double chins. The very new baby’s anatomy is unmistakably male, and his new cord stump still has its plastic clamp attached. He has the unfocused, wrinkled, drooling look of the typical newborn, and his head lolls to the side while one eye squinches shut. His older sister is doubtful and disappointed at first glance. ‘Oh!’ you said. ‘Oh!’ is all you said. You didn’t say anything else,” the matter-of-fact father narrates. She moves through frustration at how useless the baby is (Your baby’s so-ooo boring! I wish it would DO something!” she complains to her mother) aversion to its noise (“Crybaby!”) and undisguised resentment (‘I do not like that baby,’ you whispered.”) She glares out fiercely from behind her teddy bear. “I have a baby too,’ you said. ‘My bear is my baby. And my bear is way more fun than your baby!” There are all kinds of emotionally healthy role models for us here, not just for the jealous sibling, but for the rest of the baby’s relatives as well. The parents, munching on comfort food like pickle sandwiches and chocolate cake along with their jealous daughter, are matter-of-fact and completely unimpressed by all her normal emotions, and give her just enough reassurance. And the grandparents, relaxed with both their age and its accompanying skin spots, are wonderful. For those first, emotion-filled days when a family must rearrange itself to love a small new stranger, “Hi, New Baby!” offers help for everyone.”

-Francette Cerulli, The Times Argus, October 20, 2000

“The glorious team responsible for It’s So Amazing! (1999) and Happy Birth Day! (1996) has created a tender, real story of a little girl’s first meeting with her new baby brother. Dad tells what happened, relating it as if he were recounting a favorite family story. He gently reminds his daughter that she didn’t like the baby’s cries or when he peed and spat up and that she tried to take his little cap and be the baby again. Through it all, parents and grandparents are seen as calm and reassuring. They tell her that she is a big sister, and big sisters are big enough to hold the baby. When she finally does, he falls asleep. Emberley’s realistic oil-pastel pictures are utterly wonderful. A slightly balding dad, a round-faced mom, the little girl, the baby, and the grandparents are seen mostly in tight close-ups, a genuine kid’s-eye view: Mom nurses while she munches a pickle; the grandparents change the drooling infant. The emotions on the faces, from bemusement to fear to anger to delight, are rendered with pitch-perfect precision. Pair this with Kevin Henkes’ Julius, the Baby of the World (1990) for a siblingfest of reassurance and joy.”

-GraceAnne A. DeCandido, Booklist, October 1, 2000

“This is a great book to have on hand to welcome home a new sibling. From the page on which the new big sister or brother can fill in important information about the new baby to a super special story about feelings a new sibling may be having, this story covers it all. Once the little girl in this story holds her new brother, she realizes one baby in the family is enough and that her new brother is perfect for that job. Delightful!”

-Boston Herald, June 1, 2003

“Perceptive, amusing and touching, this picture book portrays the feelings and actions of a young girl when she first meets her new baby brother. She’s surprised at the baby’s size and disappointed that he cries so often. And, yes, she’s jealous. But her parents reassure her of their love for her, and the gorgeous illustrations in pastel colors convey the sweet moments after the little girl accepts her sibling.”

-Journal Inquirer, November 15, 2000