Book Review: Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt

I had the great pleasure of meeting Kathi Appelt at Hollins University this summer. She is sweet, thoughtful, and very insightful. Her works are remarkable.

I thoroughly enjoy Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt, pictures by by Jane Dyer. I’m not the only one either, my daughter asks me to read it to her every night. It is a mother’s wish for her little one to know that when they are apart their love will remain. It’s beautifully written in rhyme, the illustrations are darling, and the message is perfect; especially for working mothers.

First and foremost, it is very difficult to pull off a well-written rhyme in children’s books. I say well-written, because we have all run across multiple books that rhyme, but are difficult to read aloud because the scheme, meter, or something is off. When looking for agents and publishing houses, more often then not you will find them saying up front they will reject rhyming stories. That is what good rhyming books are up against. A mass of poorly-written rhymes and agents rejecting them on the spot.

Kathi Appelt masters her rhyme in this mother’s yearning for her little one to feel her love in her absence. “Oh my baby, little one, / the hardest thing I do / is hold you tight, then let you go, / and walk away from you.” And the rhyme continues in perfect tempo, with phrases that don’t sound like she was trying to jam rhyming words at the end of sentences. It flows like poetry ought to; therefore, it is beautiful to read aloud. (Illustration is a copyrighted image from the book.)

Second, what Appelt is saying to the little one strikes home with many working mothers who have to leave their children at a daycare, or with mothers with children in school. The words flow along a little one who goes through a typical day: “It slips inside your lunch box / and underneath your cap. / When your teacher reads a storybook, / it settles on your lap.”

Then, she switches to assure her little one that their love rests with her as well as she works throughout her day: “It might hide inside my desk drawer / or slip inside my shoe, / but still, it’s always with me – / it stays the whole day through.”

Appelt’s powerful words weave a comfort around mother and little one as they part for the day. It is a relevant and important message.

Finally, the illustrations are simply adorable. Appelt told us she liked the anthropomorphized animals versus using humans. This is a tactic many illustrators use, especially with such a universal message. The step back from reality into adorable animals which are dressed and acting like humans provides more room for a child to imagine themselves as that character.

This book is not just for working mothers or children going to school. This could be read to children who have a babysitter or go into a nursery or even if they have play dates with family members. There will always be times when the little one and mother need to part, no matter the duration, and this story provides a wonderful reminder that the love between them will stay nestled in their hearts.

What are your thoughts?