From School Library Journal
PreS-K-A baby laughs out loud for the first time, and it sends his family into a frenzy of joy and celebration. Ma declares that the event calls for a Laugh-Out-Loud Party; family, friends, and community members are all invited. The baby is passed around as everyone tries to make him laugh again and again. It's only once the house has a moment of silence that the baby lets loose with another giggle, much to the merriment of the guests. Eventually, the baby tires out and finally sleeps, holding his laughs inside until the next day. The rollicking text begs to be read aloud with phrases like "a dazzle, a jazzle, a shine" and exclamations such as "whoopee-doodles!" Johnston uses alliteration in brilliant ways that keep the text flowing; she also doesn't shy away from larger vocabulary words, putting them in context so their meaning is understood. Gammell's signature artwork is lively and fun. Problematic is the brief endnote indicating that this story is inspired by a Navajo tradition where a family celebrates a child's first laugh with the First Laugh Ceremony. This story does not seem to depict any Navajo; the central family appears to be Caucasian. The art and text have a Southern down-home feel that belies the ceremony's origins; the lack of cultural authenticity is puzzling and disturbing.-Laura Lutz, Pratt Institute, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
“Aren’t babies a wonder?” Johnston and Caldecott Award–winning Gammell ( Song and Dance Man
, 1988) capture the joy of hearing a baby laugh for the very first time. When a little boy—whose drooping pants reveal an adorable baby crack—laughs out loud, the family stands “stock-still” to listen to the sweet noise. Mama suggests a “Laugh-Out-Loud Party” so that aunts, grandpas, cousins, and neighbors can get in on the miracle, and each tries to set the baby off with snorts and giggles of his or her own. Of course, babies don’t perform on demand, and Baby chuckles in his own time (but when he does, “Whoopee-Doodles! Our baby LAUGHED!”). Johnston’s rollicking text is full of poignant phrases—“and into that quiet rang a little mirthful sound”—and plenty of jolly guffaws, while Gammell’s signature watercolor, pencil, and pastel illustrations feature a quirky family from another era living in a crooked clapboard house brimming with love. An author’s note points out that the Navajo celebrate a child’s first laugh with a ceremony. Sharing this with a child can’t help but provoke . . . well, you know.
It’s a pretty bang-up team: Johnston has more than 100 books under her belt, while Gammell has won both the Caldecott Medal and two Caldecott Honors.
, July 1, 2012 (Written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by Stephen Gammell)