Please, Baby, Please by Spike and Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
This is exactly the book to review after last Friday’s post about Eli. What’s that? You didn’t know Spike Lee (and his wife) had written a children’s book? Well, he has — in fact, more than one. But this is the only one I’ve read. I’m not entirely sure how we ended up with this book. I don’t know if I bought it out of Spike Lee curiousity, or (more likely) I knew that Spike Lee + Kadir Nelson were likely to produce a reliable product (I love Kadir Nelson’s illustrations, he is one of the best at capturing facial expressions, I think).
This book has a quality similar to Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! in that children will recognize their own naughtiness in it, and there’s a certain voyeurism in it for them, to watch this little girl the same age that they are, being just as naughty as they are (or probably she’s being just a little bit more naughty). She puts food on her head, doesn’t share, eats sand, and tries to put her diaper in the toy bin (among other things). She also stays up all night, a naughtiness my children can relate to, but they gloss over that page (Eli likes to focus on the page where she’s not sharing a ball). And in the end, of course, she’s a total sweet angel just wanting a goodnight kiss from her mama.
The text is rhyming and not-annoyingly sing-songy, and there is a little image of a clock on each page, which I take a secret little joke to the parents, like, “Yes, we know how your day seems to drag when your kid is being a pain. Yes, we know that this is what is happening in your house at 2 p.m.” I also like the whole, “Please” aspect — the word “please” is in this book about six dozen times. I think modern parents really do heap on the pleases to their kids, both out of politeness and respect, and also general parental begging. The “please” thing I can definitely relate to. My most favorite part of this book, though, is that the little girl is so rambunctious that her little curls are often not even attached to her head, like she is bubbling over with sass and spark and naughtiness.
This is a perennial favorite. Our copy is taped all over the place because it has been read to pieces.