(2018 CBCA Notable)
Written and Illustrated by Alison Lester
‘The Very Noisy Baby’ is a sweet early childhood picture book about a baby who mimics animals sounds. One by one, a community of people are drawn together in their quest to find their missing owl, horse, cow etc., As each person knocks on the door, of the little pink house, a different family member says eg., ‘No. You did hear a “moo”, but we don’t have your cow…’
After each person arrives at the house, the following left page has the baby surrounded in white space holding either a cow book, riding a wooden horse or dressed in an owl suit etc., This is the only visual clue hinting at what the animal could look like. This clever strategy creates anticipation and excitement for the young reader. In the book’s second half – on the right, the baby scene takes up the middle third towards a resolution.
Lester’s use of repetition enables young readers to repeat phrases, develop vocabulary with confidence and be immersed in role play and act out eg., animal sounds, ‘Knock, knock, knock…’ as a character looking for their animal. Alliteration is another fun literary device when playing with first sound letter patterns using their own names eg., Coco the Keeper, Frances farmer and Professor Tom Twitchy – would have them laughing and giggling.
Showing young readers that as a community, problems can be solved often strengthens friendships and builds trust. Lester shows adults listening to a young person’s solution. This reaffirms to young readers they are valued community members. Children also feel secure with the familiar and using the little pink stick house is simply delightful. The house is the constant during the first half of the book — positioned top right — like a good friend.
The illustrator Lester’s use of pinky brown and mustard (like the endpapers) as autumn leaves creates a down-to-earth connection between community and environment. Opening with the leaves swirling across the landscape towards the little pink house – a hint of the unusual. Then, towards the resolution, they follow the young girl to find the secret of the missing animals. As the baby makes each animal sound, more autumn leaves settle down until they encircle a now quiet baby — far from the noisy reference in the title.
Congratulations to Alison Lester for the power of words and her love of animals to inspire her illustrations.
The Very Noisy Baby picture book is available from Alison Lester website or any good bookshop.
Photos courtesy of Google Images
Life’s too short without good books. MPB