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The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered, Baby Brigade Hardcover – March 23, 2010
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“We can’t all walk yet but we’re marching to protest.” This picture book about a crowd of rebellious babies will appeal to the lap-sit audience, who will love the toddlers’ angry body language as they shake plastic rattles and crawl shoulder-to-shoulder carrying posters printed with defiant messages (“No!” “Out of our Way!”), as well as basic, everyday phrases, such as “Goo-Goo” and “Ga-Ga.” Of course, the parody of political demonstration is for the older siblings and adults who will read this lively book aloud to young children, but the words and images tap right into young children’s experiences—what they want and what adults nag about: “We won’t keep our clothes clean. . . . We won’t take our naps. . . . We’re whiny. We’re messy. We’re smelly.” The scenarios of the rebels in action are as much fun as the climax, when they get the snuggle they want. A great early read-aloud, with a thumping, rhythmic text that kids will want to hear many times over. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Hazel Rochman
Review, School Library Journal:
"This story may resonate more with beleaguered parents who struggle to get their sometimes uncooperative little ones fed, bathed, and dressed, but the lap set will thoroughly enjoy saying the oft-repeated refrain, “WE’RE A BAREFOOTED BAD-TEMPERED BABY BRIGADE!” Great fun."
Review, Publishers Weekly:
"Dockray (The Tushy Book) gleefully and vividly reimagines babies' chunky, blunt physicality as the manifestation of civil disobedience—after closing this book, it will be difficult to look at anyone under 36 months and not see a budding Emma Goldman or Eugene V. Debs."
"The scenarios of the rebels in action are as much fun as the climax, when they get the snuggle they want. A great early read-aloud, with a thumping, rhythmic text that kids will want to hear many times over."
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Parents will find this book - awww - adorable. It captures the toddler spirit quite well and parents will recognize their own incorrigible but lovable little ones. We parents, I'm sure, can easily imagine a "bad-tempered baby brigade" banding together to voice their protests and shout "No!".
But it is not really a kids' book. The library I checked it out from labeled it a "toddler" book. No toddler, however, is likely to sit through it - it is rather long for that age. Based on the reading level, it is a preschool and above book, but I doubt even older kids will be terribly interested. Young children are not likely to have a concept of an organized protest to relate this story to. And they're not likely to see themselves in the "baby brigade". Older children with younger siblings, however, may see their little brother or sister in the book. My own four-year-old (who loves babies) wasn't too interested in the book and hasn't wanted it read again.
The story is basically well written with a nice cadence and decent rhyme scheme. The illustrations are also well done - they capture the adorable petulance of the young child and the amused frustration of the parents. I just don't think the actual subject matter will appeal to most kids. A for effort, but only satisfactory result.
The illustrations in this book remind me of a combination of cartoons, comic books, and manga. The overall result is definitely unique, though it took a while to adjust to the deliberately distorted proportions and sketchy style. Sometimes I felt like the babies were a bit washed out compared to the color-soaked backgrounds, but this effect may have been intentional.
There are places where the rhythm seemed to be a bit off. With a bit of manipulation (and syncopation), one could make it work, though it felt terribly odd reading aloud to my cat. I just couldn't get it to work the same way in my head. The words and sentence structure are simple, in keeping with the target audience, though a few choices (e.g. "frustration") might go right over their heads. Each stanza ends in the titular phrase in the tried-and-true method of repetition that children seem to love. By the the third or fourth round, my tongue stopped getting tangled up in it.
In short, this children's book is one that will strike a chord in parents and keep children entertained. I suggest practicing a bit before reading aloud, to make sure that the beats flow easily. If not, I'm sure that the kiddies won't mind hearing the same story another two or twenty times.
Stimulated Outlet Book Reviews
My 5 year old daughter has never asked to read this again. It was a one-time story for both her and me.
I will be donating this book. Perhaps, someone else will enjoy it more than we did.