FILED IN: Book Reviews

Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready For Baby? Written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg

Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Baby?Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready For Baby?
Written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg
Candlewick, $15.99
32 pp.; ISBN-13: 978-0763635961

Review by Amy Brozio-Andrews

In this brief and honest picture book, author and illustrator Barney Saltzberg gets right to the point with grace and humor, perfectly capturing the topsy-turvy emotions of a young child who’s trying to make sense of having a new sibling and what it means for him.

Young Cornelius P. Mud (who may be familiar to readers from Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed? and Cornelius P. Mud Are You Ready for School?) seems to be having an ordinary day when Mom comes along to introduce him to someone new, the new baby. Full of questions, Cornelius asks all about what he and the baby can do together, like playing, sharing tin-can telephones, and eating pizza. When he realizes that the new baby can do none of these things, he’s pretty disappointed. He’d kind of like the baby to go back where he came from. He also wonders if mom still loves him — after all, she’s spending all that time taking care of the baby. Reassured by mom that he is still very much loved, Cornelius gets to hold the new baby and discovers that this little piggy actually can do something very special.

Barney Saltzberg’s book is a good choice for family reading with young children who are or are soon to be big brothers or sisters, providing encouragement and reassurance with zero ambiguity. Saltzberg’s straightforward storytelling style aims for the heart of every kid’s concerns when there’s a new baby in the house in a manner that’s easily familiar to young kids, even to the point of acknowledging that in one scene, Cornelius would like to send the new baby back. The mom in the story is just as plainly reassuring of her love for both her children; kids will definitely come away from the story feeling like everything will be just fine after all. With bright colors (and very expressive ears!) and a simple style, the illustrations maintain the focus of the book on the story and give voice to Cornelius’ experience in a way that’s really accessible and engaging for preschoolers who may be wondering if they themselves are ready for baby.