Children’s Book of the Week: Good Babies

Good Babies: A Tale of Trolls, Humans, a Witch, and a Switch by Tim Myers, illustrated by Kelly Murphy

We got this book out of the library a few years ago, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I also couldn’t get it out of the library again, because while the book is great, the title (without the subtitle, at least) is completely unmemorable. This past week, with Halloween approaching and witchy thoughts in my head, I finally managed a bit more of a comprehensive search, and, with the help of our librarian, figured out what I was looking for.

In this story, a human family and a troll family are dealing with the usual difficulties of raising a baby. The babies sleep at the wrong time (trolls are apparently nocturnal), and cry when they should be sleeping, and can’t be comforted. A traveling witch decides to wreak some havoc by switching the babies. And then…nobody really notices. The families think their babies have gotten uglier, but the mothers won’t hear of it. The babies are suddenly sleeping at the right times (since the human baby had been keeping troll hours and vice versa), but, after a while, their internal clocks shift back and they are sleeping at the “wrong” times again. Plus they start to behave in ways that confound their new families. The human baby plays in a sunbeam and refuses to eat rotten badger meat. The troll baby picks up a cow. And still, the families love them unconditionally.

One day the witch comes back to see how her little switcheroo played out, and she’s royally pissed to find both moms singing lullabies to their wrong babies. So she decides to get back at them by switching the babies back again, which leads both families, afterward, to pretty much think, “Well, what was that all about?” Which, if you’ve ever had a baby, is pretty much what happens when you suddenly snap out of the fog of sleeplessness when your baby is suddenly cooing and giggling and being adorable and has grown out of the phase of blowout poops, extreme irritability, and being all mottled and purple.

This would be a great book to give to someone whose baby is colicky, since it says, “Yeah, I know this stinks, but they all grow out of it. Just love him until that happens, and it will be ok.”

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