‘The Boss Baby’

By Marla Frazee

You’d have to be in a hidey-hole not to have heard about the kids’ movie “The Boss Baby,” opening this month. The film is loosely based on a controlling infant in a fun picture book by the same name, written and illustrated by Marla Frazee, and a previous Book Buzz Pick.

Frazee, who lives in Pasadena, Calif., is no stranger to Washington, Mo., having visited here several times to make presentations on her numerous award-winning books.

What could be more fun than taking little ones to see “The Boss Baby” and then following it up with Frazee’s new book, “The Bossier Baby?” The story focuses on the Boss Baby’s newborn sister, a most unwelcome interloper.

“ . . . from the moment his baby sister arrived, the Boss Baby had a feeling that change was in the air.”

The high-performing infant, clad in a black onesie and pearls, totes an etch-a-sketch instead of a laptop, and has a “business plan” that swiftly puts her brother in his place. She’ll be the new CEO, a title in caps that usurps the former in command, who is befuddled about how her antics can so charm their parents.

Poor Boss Baby is “miserable,” watching the intruder put his parents through their paces as they deliver “perks” that are certain to spoil her rotten. The new kid on the block gets everything she wants.

Downtrodden, the Boss Baby finally crawls off to a corner where he contemplates his tragic new life — a retreat that doesn’t go unnoticed. It seems the new CEO has a heart after all, and peace is restored in lullaby-land.

As always, Frazee’s delightful illustrations are a lavish treat — no one does babies better, or portrays emotion, and her talent knows no bounds as she presents her vintage spreads depicting clothing, scenes and furniture offered in a detailed 1950s theme. “The Bossier Baby” is sure to grab young reader’s attention and provide adults with some light-hearted moments too.



By Kevin Henkes

Some books are pure eye candy, like Kevin Henkes’ picture book, “Egg.” Simple, yet deliciously appealing, it’s a nearly wordless story, a timely title that would be perfect to tuck into an Easter basket, or give to a child with a spring birthday.

New life bursts forth in “Egg” which begins with four eggs, pink, yellow, blue and green. On the facing page, we see all of the eggs except the green one marked with a jagged crack, the word “crack” stated below each.

The next page shows the progression, each egg again pictured in a square, the cracks giving way to the birth of three chicks, a pink one, a yellow one and a blue one — the word “surprise!” in each square. The green egg, however, remains —still and intact.

The just-hatched chicks do what chicks do — sprout wings and fly away, “goodbye” the featured word in each square. Still the green egg remains unchanged. It’s alone and “waiting,” and “waiting,” and “waiting.”

Far be it from me to spoil the twist in this pastel-hued wonder of a picture book. Suffice it to say that the incomparable Kevin Henkes has done it again, added to his rich collection of books, titles that have earned him Caldecott and Newbery Honors.

Add another winner to his classic, “Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse,” “Waiting,” a Book Buzz Pick, “Kitten’s Full Moon,” and other special books for young readers of varying ages.


‘The War That Saved My Life’

By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Historical fiction at its best, that’s what young readers will get with “The War That Saved My Life,” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. The book is set in England at the start of World War II.

Ada and her younger brother Jamie live in London with their abusive mother, Mam. As if enduring both physical and emotional mistreatment isn’t bad enough, Ada also must cope with the daily burden of walking with a clubfoot, a birth defect that could have been corrected had it received attention in her early years.

Mam didn’t see the need. Instead she belittles Ada for her deformity.

With the war predicted to start at any time, Londoners send their children to the country by train to live with families who will provide them with safe haven, food and shelter.

Ada and Jamie are among the children issued off; they are sent away, Mam assuring them that no one will want them. Her prediction comes true until they are taken to Miss Susan Smith, a woman without offspring of her own, who hesitantly agrees to offer hearth and home to the children. Soon Susan grows fond of them both.

The country air and kindness work wonders on the siblings. Ada finds a special friend too, a pony named Butter, whom she adores. Though Ada still suffers from the effects of the abuse doled out by her mother, she begins to trust Susan, who suggests it may be possible for Ada to get an operation to fix her clubfoot.

This is a miracle Ada can’t even imagine, and she writes her mother to ask that she be allowed to have the surgery, her approval is necessary before the doctor can proceed.

But it seems Mam has moved, letters to her are returned unopened. As the war escalates, Ada’s personal battles rise to a climax in the book that is achingly touching, one that also provides a realistic look back at England during the war, thus providing teachable moments, as well as entertaining upper elementary students.

This marvelous novel was a 2016 Newbery Honor winner; it is available in paperback and hardcover.