Picture Book Review: Where’s Baby? by Anne Hunter

Review: Where’s Baby? by Anne Hunter
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada. Thank you!
Publication: January 7, 2020 by Tundra Books
Book Description:

Papa Fox is looking for Baby Fox, who is just out of his sight . . . but not ours! An adorable, interactive read-aloud for fans of Are You My Mother?

In this clever introduction to prepositions, a near-sighted Papa is looking for his baby. Is Baby up in the tree? Is Baby under the log? Is Baby around the corner? Where could Baby be?

Readers will delight in spotting the little fox on every page as Papa wanders the forest, encountering other animals all along the way, but never quite able to spot his own baby. Anne Hunter’s delicate and lovely illustrations with their limited palette highlight the humor of this adorable hide-and-seek tale.

If you have already experienced and read multiple picture books about a parent looking for their little one, you might think: I’ve seen it all! Been there, done that, thanks! But if I may, I urge you to take just a few minutes to peruse the unexpected and funny visual feast that is Where’s Baby? by author and illustrator Anne Hunter (Cricket Song).

Papa Fox opens the story by asking Mama Fox, “Have you seen Baby?”, and Mama Fox answers, “Why Baby must be somewhere, Papa Fox.”. Oh dear, Baby Fox is missing! But wait…aha! There is Baby Fox, cleverly hiding out of Papa Fix’s sight! As Papa calls out for “Ba-by!”, still looking out for his little one, readers can see little wave- a signal of cahoots!- between Mama and Baby. Papa Fox goes on an adventure of sorts, searching “up”, “inside”, “over”, and “around” for Baby, narrowly escaping some potentially hairy moments (no spoilers!).  Will Papa Fox ever, ever find Baby? And… do we think Papa Fox perhaps has been in on Baby’s hiding game the whole time?

There is something sublime and almost quietly subversive about Where’s Baby?; something Jon Klassen-like in deceptively simple visuals that express bursts of humour and emotions through characters’ widened eyes or slightly exaggerated movements and expressions. Anne Hunter’s illustrative work here- done by ballpoint pen and coloured pen- with hand-lettered text, is truly fantastic (the detail ia simply incredible!). The textures of the animals and surroundings (e.g. the fox fur and whiskers, grassy banks, soil, tree barks, etc.) are eye-grabbing and pop, especially given the steady black/white/gray palette, with colour emphasis only on the soft blue sky and the orange flashes of hidden Baby Fox.

In all, Anne Hunter’s Where’s Baby? is a terrific picture book. A standout of a story that excels by turning a simple concept into something memorable through surprise, oodles of charm, and visual treats- not to mention a clever take on learning prepositions. With its refined, clear text that gives space to humorous moments and terrific surprises, and an added interactive seek-and-find element, Where’s Maybe? would make for a wonderful storytime read aloud for toddlers and up (and really, for anyone looking for a little something zany and sweet!).  Bonus: Don’t miss the delightful extras of the end pages; and if you are able to, be sure to take a look at the undies (the under-the-dust-jacket of the picture book) for a cuddly treat.

I received a copy of this title courtesy of Tundra Books/Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.

Author: michelle@fabbookreviews

Reference & Children's Librarian. Reader. Reviewer.

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