The Newbies

illus. by Peter Catalanotto. 40p. Atheneum/Richard Jackson Bks. Jul. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481418928. ebk. $12.99. ISBN 9781481418935. LC 2013047676.
K-Gr 2—Catalanotto's latest picture book is about a boy longing for his parents' complete attention. Dad still makes him pancakes with rabbit ears (one floppy one and one up straight), but he cannot play soccer with his son because he's busy painting the nursery in time for the new baby's arrival. When the boy's mom is too tired to tell him a story about when he was little, he begins to imagine his life as an only child with two new parents. The newbie parents are kind to him, but they just don't do the little things his real parents do for him. New dad makes only round pancakes, and new mom cuts his sandwiches into squares, not triangles. The watercolor spreads are realistic in style. The inside of the home looks cozy, and outside, the sun is shining. The artwork looks dreamy whether the boy is daydreaming or not, but his smiles are bigger and more frequent when he's with his actual parents. The story ends with the family (dog included) laughing in bed while mom eats her breakfast. The boy's feelings of loneliness are never really addressed; the parents are not aware of them, but the boy comes to his own conclusions about his parents' love.
VERDICT A sweet, tender twist on the "be careful what you wish for" adage.

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