Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pretty Baby Books

Whose Toes Are Those? by Jabari Asim, illustrations by LeUyen Pham. Little, Brown & Co., 2006.

Whose Knees Are These? by Jabari Asim, illustrations by LeUyen Pham. Little, Brown & Co., 2006.

I ordered these two board books online for Christmas and they just came today. I guess they will be Valentine's Day gifts! I always enjoy Jabari Asim's column in the paper. He writes editorials for the Washington Post that are syndicated in my local paper. I didn't realize he wrote children's books too until I heard about these two board books.

They are really adorable little board books that I am so looking forward to sharing with my boys. Whose Toes Are Those? plays on the nursery rhyme This Little Piggy, but starts out with an endearing tribute to those darling toes:

"Whose toes are those?
Who do you suppose
has such fine toes?
So brown and sweet.
Who could have such darling feet?"

The little girl in the story is only shown in parts so that you are playing peek-a-boo with her though the first half of the story. Her identify isn't revealed until the final two-page spread. She has lovely light brown skin and pony tails, with a delightfully charming smile. I can practically hear her giggling as we try to identify the owner of her toes.

Whose Knees Are These? is equally humorous and engaging. We start out seeing a boy's knees up in a tree, rolling past a duck, hanging out of a rowboat.

"Knees like these
don't grow on trees.
So brown and strong,
to whom do these fine knees belong?
I've searched the world and seven seas.
Never have I seen such charming knees."

It is not until the end of the book that we see the cheerful face of the boy whose knees we have been adoring. Punkin loves to play with identifying facial features and body parts, pointing to eyes, ears, etc. and having me say the names. I think these two affectionate tributes to brown-skinned toddlers will be among his new favorite books.

One reason I am confident he will love them is that his current favorite book is Pretty Brown Face by Andrea and Brian Pinkney. (1997) This book has a similar pattern of question and answer, identifying the beautiful toddler who is the subject of a parent's adoration.

" Whose face is that
staring back at me?
It's a pretty brown face.
There's so much to see.
Look at that hair,
curly and soft..."

Punkin loves to touch his hair at the appropriate place in the story. The last page of the book is reflective like a mirror, so he can see his own pretty brown face when I read:

"That pretty brown face
is special as can be.
That face in the mirror
belongs to me!"

At this crucial time in the development of self awareness, when toddlers are learning about their bodies and forming a basic self image, it is so important to give positive affirmations. Peter's Cross Station recently had a couple of posts about how they are stroking their daughter with positive comments about her beauty and worth. I think boys need that just as much as girls do; the specific words may be different but the need for reinforcing the message of treasured, valued beauty and worth is the same for every human. Front loading a positive self-image starts with babies. Plus it is one of the most fun things you can do with your toddler. They just soak it in and shine with pleasure. For myself, I can't think of a better way to spend ten minutes than playing with those darling little piggies! If you have a young one, you need books like these.


MotherReader said...

I didn't know about these, but I'm going to order them for my niece. They look very cute.

Kohana said...

We have Pretty Brown Face and Small Sun loves looking in the mirror at the end.

Inkling said...

Mr. Quiz has always been excited whenever he sees an adult man or older boy who looks somewhat like him on TV--and unfortunately, it's pretty rare. Unless you want to watch Spanish soap operas (and sometimes not even then) you don't see many Hispanic men on TV. Or in books, unless the books are in Spanish.

Carol said...

Hey, you have named some lovely books. My aunt will like them since she is a child specialist.

God Bless

kim said...

These are great ideas...interesting, to teach an appreciation of "self" when one does not meet the general description of the group to which one belongs, and with which one's mother identifies....

The sense of poignancy, and celebration, for the fact of the "brown" of the little boys and girls may be lost on one in such instances, but the stories are endearing and universal in that whole little-one-exploring-oneself in-the-world way, so here we go...

art-sweet said...

I love these suggestions - thank you so much! I have about ten of your posts bookmarked to go back and add to my baby registry or my buy for baby some day list.

You may have talked about this before, but any recommendations for nice books with multiracial families?