Monday, May 9, 2011

Born Yesterday: The Diary of a Young Journalist

Written By: James Solheim

Illustrated By: Simon James

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the minds of babies?  What are they really thinking when they suck their thumb?  What makes it appealing to them to stick their fist in their mouths or bite their ankles?  The story of Born Yesterday: The Diary of a Young Journalist, written by James Solheim, is a journey kept by a newborn baby in the first year of life.  Everything is written from the baby’s perspective and it is for lack of a better word—hilarious.

For example, on March 22nd the baby writes, “Finally—I have it figured out.  Some things are noses, some are taxicabs, and some are Belgians.  The up end of people is their hairstyles and the down end is their tootsie-wootsies.  These tootsie-wootsie things are fascinating.  I plan to write a book about them. My sister paints her tootsie-wootsie nails a special color called striped.  I can’t wait till I can paint my tootsie-wootsie nails the color called striped, and thus become a super-chick person like my sister.  For now, I just lift them to my mouth and suck.”

The illustrations in the story are simple and are very cartoonish.  The cartoon-looking characters add to the overall mood and humor of the story and the brightly colored watercolors attract the eye—making it perfect for young readers.  The pages are made to look like lined paper, giving the appearance of a real diary.  The illustrations are dispersed throughout the pages and are drawn as vignettes—adding meaning to the text surrounding it. 

A book review by Booklist on Amazon did not give Born Yesterday a positive review simply because the reviewer felt that some of the humor in the book may be over the heads of the intended age group.  The intended age group for this book is ages four through eight.  I do agree that this story will mostly appeal to children in the upper level of the age group because they will better be able to understand the humor—especially if they are an older brother or sister to a new baby in the household.  I read this story to my third-grade students and found that they were all rolling on the floor with laughter—actually, they thought it was much funnier than I had originally anticipated.

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