Cradle Me by Debby Slier.
Star Bright Books, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2012.
Board book, 12 pages.
Ten different babies in ten different cradle boards showing ten different emotions or actions.
This has been a surprise favorite of our children. I knew from Global Babies and other series that they would enjoy seeing real photographs of other babies, but I had no idea this basic book would hold their attention so well.
The top of the book is curved, and which probably helps. Other than a few books with tabs, I’ve noticed that hardly any diverse board books have a unique shape or sensory/texture element.
Each page is very simple, containing a photograph of a real baby in a cradle board and a single word. But the care and composition that has gone into this shines through. The final two pages include a short paragraph about the use of cradle boards in Native American culture, and identifies the tribe of the various babies pictured. Represented are Goshute/Paiute, Ojibwe/Leech Lake, Arapaho, Northern Ute/Uintah, Pueblo, Kootenai/Salish, Navajo/Dineh, Shoshone, Nez Perce, Shoshone/Bannock, and Yurok/Hupa infants.
Also several infants are clearly wearing modern clothes or have modern swaddling materials used, so it’s obvious this book is set in the present day. The babies have different skin tones and, for those with hair, different hair types as well. They are all adorable, even the crying and frowning babies who I just want to scoop up!
As always in my reviews, I point out negatives as well as positives. While there are many things to love about this book, since my review of Loving Me we’ve learned the Star Bright books simply are not as sturdy as other board books in our collection. Loving Me received some attention from our teething babies, and is showing the wear, especially compared to the Orca books. I am now especially careful of Cradle Me, since it is such a favorite here.
There are three editions available: Navajo/English, Ojibwe/English, and the version we were given, which has a blank space for an adult to write in whatever language they wish. Had I been paying attention, I would’ve requested the bilingual Ojibwe version, because even though we are not learning Ojibwe, it’s one of the Wisconsin tribal languages and I would like to support Ojibwe language books and expose my children to the language.
Although these versions are clearly a boon to parents teaching Navajo, Ojibwe, or other indigenous languages, this book could also be great for children studying another language such as Spanish. Most board books are focused more on nouns. But this is an entire book of verbs! (Well, and one adjective.) It would be great for learning the verbs pictured, conjugating, etc. Yet again, Slier’s book has dual purpose for older children!
Not one of our babies is indigenous, giving the lie to publishers who claim there won’t be interest in minority group publications – because our kids LOVE this book. Highly recommended.
Oh, and I nearly forgot, this book is recommended by Debbie Reese at AICL. If you’re looking for more Native American board books, she has a great list to get you started.