Wednesday, March 25, 2015

‘Little Baby Buttercup’ (Book Review)

This has got to be one of the cutest toddler books I’ve ever read. Little Baby Buttercup (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015) is a “Mommy and Me” story about daily activities and growing up. Readers will join Buttercup, as she eats, plays with blocks, “helps” her mother in the garden, and explores the outside world of nature and busy people around her.

Author Linda Ashman tells the story using bouncy rhymes that are simple and fun, propelling the story forward. The vocabulary presents a few opportunities for your child to be exposed to new words, like “traveler” and “journey,” and learn to pay attention to sounds, not just actions. While the story follows a bunch of mini-adventures, there is still a sense of dramatic structure. There’s a definite build-up, followed by a point of conflict – rain! – and a calming resolution. Not always what’s expected from a toddler book. Impressive writing, indeed.

Bringing to life Buttercup’s world is illustrator You Byun. She uses sort of an East-meets-West style of drawing and feminine-looking watercolor painting to create pictures that look “vintage” without being “outdated” and “Asian-inspired” without causing the reader to feel like she’s looking at manga. The illustrations are bright and large, sure to capture and maintain a young child’s attention. They are also relevant to the story, driving home the ideas and sounds that Ashman presents.

I think Little Baby Buttercup is all around adorable. There is a diverse multicultural crowd of kids at the playground and people moving about the town. I wouldn’t say it’s geographically ambiguous, because there’s an obvious east-coast town feel. However, California babies can easily identify with squirrels, coffee shops, and getting caught in the rain.

Before you rush out and buy this book, note that, while Little Baby Buttercup is clearly targeted at toddlers, it boasts a jacketed hardcover and paper pages. You might want to hold off on it, or at least store it in a safe place, until you’re sure your child knows that books are not to be torn and eaten. Properly cared for, this book could be read and loved well into the early grade years.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book as a First Reads giveaway winner on There was no obligation to write a review.