The Baby’s Catalogue


Puffin Books

A book with no words that clearly comes from an older time but it’s simplicity and beauty makeits just as fascinating to its target audience today. Though it was first published in 1982(!),this is another book that I had never come across before I had kids of my own. It follows an average day in the lives of five families with small babies. And that’s it. As an adult you might pass it by in the shop but kids adore it.

Why is it so good?
As a wordless book the illustrations are clearly what it’s all about here. I love the variety among the families and at the same time the similarities. Each page has several pictures covering all the families and there is such attention to detail that after many visits I was still finding nuances. The images are delightfully honest showing the ups and downs of family life and I find the details great for normalising things that, while central to babies’ lives, are not often seen in kids books (nursing, nappy changing, baths etc). There are also light touches of humour for the adults – I particularly like the poor haggard looking Daddy pacing the floor with his daughter in the middle of the night!
While you might initially feel a little odd with this one since there isn’t a story to read as such, you’ll be amazed how simply pointing out details can be so much fun and, as the child grows they will start pointing things out, asking questions and so on. In effect this is a beautiful book to share rather then read.
In my copy there is a quote on the inside cover from Parents “a book which every child under three should have”. I fully agree.

And in school?
To be honest, unless doing a project on babies, this book is not really age appropriate for a primary school setting. However I could see it being a valuable resource in preschool education as a starting point for all sorts from vocabulary development to discussions on diversity. The variety of detail is such that most kids will be able to see something like their lives in it and the value of associating with a character in a book should not be underestimated.

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