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The Day the Babies Crawled Away Hardcover – October 13, 2003


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 2 - 6 years
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; First Edition first Printing edition (October 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039923196X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399231964
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 8.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 2-While the grown-ups are immersed in pie eating and other outdoor carnival festivities, their babies crawl away. The only one to observe this phenomenon is a toddler in a fireman's hat who follows them and saves them from such disasters as bat caves, cliff-hanging, and hunger, along the way shouting very responsible warnings and imprecations to "behave." When he brings them safely home, he is, of course, a hero. In the penultimate spread, it transpires that the tale is the boy's fantasy story retold by his loving mother just before he falls asleep. The babies and their adventures are rendered in stunning, sharply detailed, Pienkowski-like silhouette against a subtly changing backdrop that reflects the time of day. The boy's fireman's hat makes him easy to follow on each spread and also conveys his gallant status. This book has levels of complexity. Adults may be put off by the seeming parental neglect, but children will doubtless latch on to and enjoy the fact that the hero is a child, that none of the escapees seems in any real jeopardy, that the softly glowing pastel backgrounds lend a mood of unruffled calm, and that the story is, after all, fanciful. The verse doesn't always scan and occasionally does not rhyme, but oh those beguiling babies-they're irresistible!-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

PreS-Gr. 1. Caldecott Medal-winner Rathman tries something different here, but she isn't altogether successful. The exuberant text is directed to a young boy with the rescuing sensibility of Holden Caufield, who catches wandering babies: "Remember the way / You tried to save the day? / You hollered, "HEY! / You babies, Stay!" Alas, none of them do; instead they crawl off to chase bees and scramble onto a ledge. The fun is in the oversize pictures with silhouette images set against gloriously colored, subtly shaded backgrounds. These illustrations, reminiscent of the art in Jan Pienkowski's books about Christmas and Easter, may be difficult for little children to absorb. Not only must kids read details into the flat, black silhouettes, but they will also find that some objects are so small they are hard to discern. In addition, though the text is peppy, it can be difficult to read aloud. Is the book worth buying? Yes. The conceit is clever, the artwork is creative and lovely, and children with patience and imagination will find a bit more to see than they might find in a book with conventional art. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

"Caldecott-medalist Peggy Rathmann was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and grew up in the suburbs with two brothers and two sisters.
""In the summer we lolled in plastic wading pools guzzling Kool-Aid. In the winter we sculpted giant snow animals. It was a good life.""
Ms. Rathmann graduated from Mounds View High School in New Brighton, Minnesota, then attended colleges everywhere, changing her major repeatedly. She eventually earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Minnesota.
""I wanted to teach sign language to gorillas, but after taking a class in signing, I realized what I'd rather do was draw pictures of gorillas.""
Ms. Rathmann studied commercial art at the American Academy in Chicago, fine art at the Atelier Lack in Minneapolis, and children's-book writing and illustration at the Otis Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles.
""I spent the first three weeks of my writing class at Otis Parsons filching characters from my classmates' stories. Finally, the teacher convinced me that even a beginning writer can create an original character if the character is driven by the writer's most secret weirdness. Eureka! A little girl with a passion for plagiarism! I didn't want anyone to know it was me, so I made the character look like my sister.""
The resulting book, Ruby the Copycat, earned Ms. Rathmann the ""Most Promising New Author"" distinction in Publishers Weekly's 1991 annual Cuffie Awards. In 1992 she illustrated Bootsie Barker Bites for Barbara Bottner, her teacher at Otis Parsons.
A homework assignment produced an almost wordless story, Good Night, Gorilla, inspired by a childhood memory.
""When I was little, the highlight of the summer was running barefoot through the grass, in the dark, screaming. We played kick-the-can, and three-times-around-the-house, and sometimes we just stood staring into other people's picture windows, wondering what it would be like to go home to someone else's house.""
That story, however, was only nineteen pages long, and everyone agreed that the ending was a dud. Two years and ten endings later, Good Night, Gorilla was published and recognized as an ALA Notable Children's Book for 1994.
The recipient of the 1996 Caldecott Medal, Officer Buckle and Gloria, is the story of a school safety officer upstaged by his canine partner.
""We have a videotape of my mother chatting in the dining room while, unnoticed by her or the cameraman, the dog is licking every poached egg on the buffet. The next scene shows the whole family at the breakfast table, complimenting my mother on the delicious poached eggs. The dog, of course, is pretending not to know what a poached egg is. The first time we watched that tape we were so shocked, we couldn't stop laughing. I suspect that videotape had a big influence on my choice of subject matter.""
Ms. Rathmann lives and works in San Francisco, in an apartment she shares with her husband, John Wick, and a very funny bunch of ants.
"

Customer Reviews

My 2 year old son loves this book so much!
Julie Jorstad
I am thrilled to buy her books for my son because I love to read them to him.
J. King
A delightful book with detailed illustrations and fun rhymes.
Joshua Koppel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Koppel on November 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
One day, while the adults are distracted at a picnic, the babies crawl away. The only one who sees them leave is the hero of the story, a child in a fireman's hat. The babies crawl and the child chases. Eventually the babies are rounded up and returned to the parents and the hero gets a much deserved rest.
While the tale is simple, the illustrations add a wonderful dimension to the story. The pictures are done in a silhouette style but with no lack of detail. We see the babies crawl, hide in trees, and other antics. My favorite is the baby with a bow who starts hanging upside down like the bats. In the final scene we see this baby and a parent both hanging from the rafters.
A delightful book with detailed illustrations and fun rhymes. Kids learn that even little kids can be heroes. Check out all of Peggy Rathman's books.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There is no justice in the world. None at all. Ladies and gentlemen I direct your attention this evening to "The Day the Babies Crawled Away". Now this is a tale told entirely in silhouette. It is accomplished and witty, ending with a touch of sentiment that brings an actual honest-to-goodness tear to the eye. And yet what did author Peggy Rathmann win the Caldecott Award for? For the phenomenally less deserving and trite, "Officer Buckle and Gloria". A fine book, but not even a hair close to the brilliance of this, her latest text.

The book begins in the early morning. A fair is being set up next to a group of houses. The narration speaks to the reader.
"Remember the day
The babies crawled away?"
And later...
"Remember the way
You tried to save the day?"
So we follow our protagonist, a boy in a fireman's helmet as he frantically follows five fast moving babies. The boy follows them from the woods, to the swamps, into caves and on ledges. The babies find themselves in perilous situations, and the intrepid young boy must find a way to save them all and get them back home safe and sound. When he returns to the fairgrounds, babies in tow, the grown-ups cheer him soundly. That night, boy and babies fall asleep in their parents' arms after a long and exhausting day.

It sounds cutesy, no question, and it isn't. Not in the least. First of all, technically it's remarkably adept. The silhouettes are so detailed and delicate that you find yourself discovering all sorts of tiny details on every page. Is that Officer Buckle and Gloria on the title page? Is the trophy given to the boy at the end topped with a pie? And how did Rathmann draw an exploding water balloon so well in silhouette?
Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Aunt Kiki on November 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Rathman, a well-known author/illustrator (i.e., Officer Buckle and Gloria, a Caldecott Medal winner, and Good Night Gorilla) has created an enchanting and irresistible rhyming tale here. A young boy becomes a hero by rescuing and eventually returning a gang of mischievous, runaway babies to their grateful parents. This unique storyline is beautifully brought to life in even more unique illustrations. The illustrations are almost completely done in silhouette. The entire landscape, the young hero, the adorable and troublesome babies, and all the butterflies, birds, frogs, and bats they encounter are all done in black silhouette. But wonderful, lively colors are introduced into the illustrations. All of the silhouettes are set against beautifully colored, wondrous skies. These amazing skies range from a beautiful, blue green sky with puffy white clouds in the beginning to a rainbow-colored, sunset sky to a stunning, purple night sky filled with lively white fireworks. Preschoolers are sure to enjoy the rhyming text and heroism of someone their own age and be captivated by probably unfamiliar artistic method of silhouette. This book is likely to inspire many to try this style themselves. Highly recommended for ages 3 to 10.

I'm shocked that this truly exceptional picture book did not win the Caldecott award in 2004(for the most distinquished American picture book published in the preceding year) or at least get picked as a Caldecott Honor Book (basically a "finalist"). I'm also surprised that there is no indication of other award it won or should have won. For example, it won the 2004 Northern California Book Award award in the Children's Literature category.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Seth on June 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I've owned this book for my oldest daughter's entire 3 1/2 years (got it before she was born) & I'm only now writing a review because I'm shopping for a new copy. The original, 2 daughters later, has been read and read and read to the point 4 of the pages are ripped & taped, there are thumb-smudge marks all over, and the spine is practically off. Needless to say, this (along w/ every other Peggy Rathmann book) is one of their favorites. It's funny and lighthearted but like all Rathmann books the best part is the way she gets your children to practice their powers of observation and association. Patterns are placed for my kids to pick up on, like the little creatures that join the boy on his quest and the curious personalities of the babies (one in particular). Great book!

And to the reviewer who said "I also miss the clues and hidden references to previous books", look in the pages before the title one and you'll find a policeman & his faithful dog (doing one of her classic tricks on another page)...
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