Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Welcome Song for Baby: A lullaby for newborns by Richard Van Camp

I have a bias; well actually more than one, but I have a serious bias when it comes to board books. For one thing, I adore reading them, or at least the ones that aren't merely shrunk down picture books. Still, having written four, I am acutely aware of just how challenging they can be.

Lately, board books have been taking a new direction; board books written simultaneous for little ones and adults. A perfect example is Richard Van Camp's Welcome Song for Baby: A lullaby for newborns put out by Orca Book Publishers. This is a departure for Van Camp, who is known for his gritty YA prose and an occasional picture book. Welcome Song for Baby doesn't follow the unwritten rule of "make it short, then pare it down". It is a lengthy lyrical prose poem that compliments close-up photographs of babies. The close-ups have super baby-appeal as research indicates that the very young are attracted by human faces which are featured on each page. Interestingly, the prose is far too sophisticatedly for babies. However, it is an affirmation of the importance of children in our lives and in our world. It is both intimate and broad in it's message that raising children is life-changing. Van Camp, who is a member of the Dogrib Nation, brings a welcome First Nations cadence to his prose; a cadence that is timeless in it's ability to sooth both the reader and the listener with story.

The sun rises for you
The earth welcomes you
We raise our hands to you
You have made the world beautiful again.

This is must have for new parents and a perfect gift for those about to be.

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