Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Picture Book Review: Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble by Rosemary Wells (2019)

When each of my older two girls was awaiting the arrival of a younger sibling, we read tons of picture books about welcoming new babies: Baby Dear by Esther Wilkin and Eloise Wilkin, The Other Dog by Madeleine L'Engle and Christine Davenier, You're a Big Sister by David Bedford and Susie Poole, The New Baby by Fred Rogers, Julius the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes, Snuggle the Baby by Sara Gillingham, etc. When we learned in early September that we are expecting twins this spring, I really wanted to find a picture book about a family welcoming twins to help all three girls, and especially my toddler, get used to the idea of bringing home two new babies. Imagine my surprise and delight when, just two days later, I was offered the opportunity to review this new Max and Ruby book on that very topic. (Thank you, Simon & Schuster!)

In the early part of this story, Ruby, the big sister, has much the same attitude toward her mother's pregnancy as I had toward mine when I thought I was only expecting a singleton. She has been through this whole thing before, and she's sure she's an expert. Max, who has been the youngest until now, listens as Ruby imparts her wisdom in the superior tone that only a big sister can get away with using. When Max and Ruby's mother returns home from the hospital, however, she is carrying not just one baby in her arms, but two. Though it turns out Ruby doesn't know everything about new babies, she and Max still have a hand in the adjustment to being a family of six, and it turns out that both of them have just the right amount of knowledge of babies to be able to comfort their sweet new siblings.

This book is a wonderfully positive portrayal of the experience of welcoming twins into a family where there are older siblings. It doesn't focus much at all on some of the things my kids are interested in, such as ultrasounds and the actual process of giving birth, which was a bit of a drawback for me, but because it is so vague on the details, it's ideal for two-and-three-year-olds. Parents can always fill in the appropriate level of detail for their kids as they share the book. My kids were also puzzled by the fact that Max and Ruby's mother doesn't seem to know she's having twins until she goes to the hospital, and I think that is probably the one flaw I see in the story. In this day and age, if a mother knows she is expecting, she knows how many she is having, if not at ten weeks like we did, then certainly by the midpoint of her pregnancy. I considered that the author may have chosen to write it this way in order for there to be a bit of an element of surprise when the twins come home from the hospital, but the title would already have ruined that surprise, so it seems like it's just an oddity for this specific anthropomorphic rabbit family.

There are really very few picture books available for families who are expecting twins, so this book definitely fills a need, and it could not have arrived at a better time for my kids! My girls have never read any other Max & Ruby books, nor do they watch the TV show, but they immediately recognized these characters as being somehow related to other rabbits they have loved in books like Timothy Goes to School, Noisy Nora, and Morris's Disappearing Bag, and this has made Twin Trouble a highly coveted book in our house. I expect it will stay high on the list of favorites for the next several months as we prepare for our new additions!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your expected new additions! Two more book lovers entering the world is a happy thing. Hope your girls adjust quickly.