TITLE: The Boss Baby
AUTHOR + ILLUSTRATOR: Marla Frazee
PUBLISHED BY: Beach Lane Books
Marla Frazee has had a very good couple of years. Her incredibly silly and delightful A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever won the Caldecott in 2008, and her evocative illustrations for All the World won a medal again last year. I will be very surprised if she wins again for The Boss Baby--a playful take on the way babies rule our lives. Don't get me wrong: the book is fantastically funny, a real delight, but I can't imagine it as Caldecott material.
In a dark suit onesie, with a commanding face, and outrageous demands, the Boss Baby clearly rules the lives of his family. He requires late hours, demands the perfect drink, throws a fit when things aren't done correctly--even if he never makes it clear what he wants. He's the worst boss to work for, and his poor parents look more and more haggard as the day wears on. Frazee's prose is simple and direct: "From the moment the Baby arrived, it was obvious that he was the boss. He put Mom and Dad on a round-the-clock schedule with no time off...If things weren't done to his immediate satisfaction, he threw a fit."
The illustrations really shine. With a few strokes, Frazee captures each expression of the baby. There is a slight retro feel to the drawings, and the surrounding environment is balanced with just enough detail to remain interesting. But the focus is always, clearly, on the baby.
So what happens when mom and dad collapse with exhaustion, and none of the babies demands are met? I won't spoil the punchline for you, but it really makes the book. This would be an excellent, fun choice for a family with a new baby; tongue firmly planted in cheek, it will make the older kids laugh and laugh and laugh--while making clear the importance of caring for family.