Room for the Baby

Michelle Edwards; Jana Christy, illus.
  • Review
By – June 12, 2013

Love, fam­i­ly, neigh­bor­li­ness, and joy fill this beau­ti­ful ear­ly child­hood book, told through the eyes of a lit­tle boy. When any­one on the block has any­thing that is no longer need­ed, includ­ing worn sheets, socks, and paja­mas, the items are giv­en to the boy’s mom, who keeps the hand-me-downs in her sewing room. That works per­fect­ly until the announce­ment on Passover that a new baby is com­ing, which neces­si­tates clean­ing out this catch-all room; oth­er­wise there will be no room for a crib! The soon-to-be broth­er shares his con­cern for cre­at­ing the need­ed space. The extra mate­ri­als are per­fect to make all kinds of things for the expect­ed baby and all the lov­ing­ly craft­ed goods are shared by the resource­ful moth­er with all the neigh­bors who can use them. Mrs. Finkelstein’s grand­child, for exam­ple, needs dia­pers and the soft recy­cled fab­rics will make some per­fect ones. In the process, the fam­i­ly and neigh­bors man­age to clean out one end of the room. As the year pro­gress­es, the fam­i­ly cel­e­brates all the Jew­ish hol­i­days togeth­er, and more and more projects near completion.

By Hanukkah, three cor­ners of the room are emp­ty. Some of the recy­clables work to dec­o­rate the hol­i­days, such as a flag for Sim­chat Torah made from old yarn and chop­sticks. And some items fash­ion neigh­bor-cre­at­ed gifts for Baby Lily when she is born.

The illus­tra­tions are both age-appro­pri­ate and fit­ting for the sto­ry. The paint­ings are filled with col­or and whim­sy. End­pa­pers fea­ture quilt squares with Jew­ish sym­bols such as apple and hon­ey and a meno­rah, and also yarn and knit­ting nee­dles. Won­der­ful val­ues are expressed through­out in a light-heart­ed fash­ion. Chil­dren learn about recy­cling and re-using every­day mate­ri­als, while also see­ing the beau­ty of shar­ing, neigh­bor­li­ness, and cre­at­ing use­ful things on one’s own.

This is a win­ner. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 3 – 6.

Shelly Feit has an M.L.S. and a Sixth-year Spe­cial­ist’s Cer­tifi­cate in infor­ma­tion sci­ence. She is the library direc­tor and media spe­cial­ist at the Mori­ah School in Engle­wood, NJ.

Discussion Questions