Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Look Out, There's A New Face In The Family

Nine days ago my life completely changed... for the good but it is exhausting.  It's been a little more than sixteen years since a puppy was a member of my home.  At two months old Mulan, a chocolate Labrador, is full of energy, teething and trying to get the hang of relieving herself outdoors.  Everything chewable is now placed above five feet.  I am on alert 24/7 gauging the amount of time between food, drink and the last time we were outside.  Her schedule has become my schedule until we can get adjusted to one another.

Last night was the first time we slept more than four hours (which was a huge relief considering I slept in my clothes for several nights, not the same clothes, of course).  There was a mini wake-up but soothing words did the trick and the sweet pup went back to dreaming.  The Boss Baby (Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, August 31 2010) written and illustrated by Marla Frazee is about a newcomer with a mind of his own.

He has huge demands which take every single second of Mom's and Dad's time.  He becomes the center of attention.  If all his wants are not met, he puts up an enormous fuss.

His meetings are Mom and Dad trying everything under the sun to make their son satisfied.  He does not care one iota about what time of day or night these occur.  Trying to understand him is nearly impossible because his language is gibberish to their adult ears.

One day no matter what he does, his workers fail to perform.  Nothing seems to get their attention until he does something he has never done.  The results are better than expected.  Is there anything better than being in charge?

Given the laws of life and nature, what goes up must come down.  In other words the Boss Baby is blissfully unaware his authority is about to be challenged.  The Bossier Baby, a companion title, (Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, November 1, 2016) written and illustrated by Marla Frazee, shows how upsetting a shift can be for a smooth running company...er...family.

From the moment his baby sister arrived,
the Boss Baby had a feeling that change was in the air.

She has a plan and she is sticking to it.  Her first order of business is to put new leadership in place.  She is now in charge...of everything.

She is even more vocal than the Boss Baby which if you recall he set new records in the bossy department.  Mom and Dad don't seem to mind all this noise.  In fact the Boss Baby is saddened by their total delight in the Bossier Baby.  Her on-the-job perks are much better than his.  How come he never had

a full-time social media team?

The Boss Baby is getting angrier by the minute.  To add fuel to his fury, no one seems to care.  His shocking actions go unnoticed.  So he does something he has never done.

Little-miss-in-charge-of-everything makes a discovery.  You will not believe what the Bossier Baby, the Chief Executive Officer, the CEO, does.  It is something she has never done before.  All appears to be running smoothly.  Or is it?

In both these titles Marla Frazee puts a brilliant spin on the arrival of a new baby in a home.  Her narratives equating the youngsters as the heads of a company are hilarious in their exactness.  In both titles an unseen narrator is assessing the situation as an astute observer.

The tone of each book is straightforward never missing a beat with perfect pacing adding to the comedic effect.  Her descriptions of the meetings, the perks and the

out of the box

thinking by both the Boss Baby and the Bossier Baby are exceedingly creative and clever.  The private jet for Boss Baby is a plane-shaped swing and the private limo for the Bossier Baby is a ritzy, cushioned baby buggy.  Here are passages from each book.

He made demands.
Many, many demands.
And he was quite particular.
If things weren't done to his immediate satisfaction,
he had a fit. 

The first thing the new executive did was outline her business plan and restructure the organization...
from the top down.

In both books the opened matching dust jackets and book cases introduce readers to the no nonsense characters by placing them front and center.  To the left, on the back, of each, the main characters are being catered to by the staff, Mom and Dad.  The opening and closing endpapers on the first title are a happy pattern of baby toys in shades of pink, blue and white. In the companion book there is a geometric, retro design of squares and rectangles with Etch A Sketches prominently in view and part of the mix for the endpapers in yellow, grays, red and orange.

On both of the title pages you have to smile at the scene of each baby arriving at their home.  In the first he is sitting in a rather large backseat, consulting his watch with a huge briefcase on his lap. The Bossier Baby arrives in a snazzy car with her small head, a single curl on top peering out the back window.  She is, of course, wearing sunglasses.

Marla Frazee rendered the art in these books using

black Prismacolor pencil and gouache on Strathmore 2-ply cold press paper.  

Her line work and design are unmistakable giving her images texture and loads of animation.  Many of her illustrations span two pages but her perspectives vary expanding the text.  To provide pacing and slowing the narrative, a single page picture is used or a series of smaller vignettes depict the passage of time.  The expressions on the babies' faces and their body postures (on Mom and Dad too) will have you laughing out loud.

One of my favorite illustrations from the first book spans two pages.  Mom and Dad, looking the worse for wear and barely awake, are standing in front of a crib with Boss Baby making demands in the middle of the night.  He is wearing footie pajamas in black with a tie.  His open brief case is next to him in bed.  A Calder style mobile hangs from the ceiling over his crib.  He is holding a long page enumerating his wants and needs.

One of my favorite illustrations from the second book is when the Bossier Baby enters the home for the first time.  She strides in pushing her sunglasses up on her forehead wearing a classic pearl necklace.   She is caring her Etch A Sketch.  Boss Baby is watching, pressed against the wall and looking aghast.  On the right-hand side of the page Mom and Dad are thrilled with her arrival.  A picture of the original trio is on a nearby table beneath a retro sunburst clock.

The Boss Baby and The Bossier Baby written and illustrated by Marla Frazee are sure to ignite bouts of giggles in readers of all ages.  We all know what it's like to have our lives turned topsy-turvy by a "boss".  These bosses are starting at a very early age.  Who knows what the future holds for either of them.  Whatever it is, there is bound to be lots of humor involved.

To learn more about Marla Frazee and her other remarkable works, please follow the link attached to her name to access her website.  At the publisher's website you can read about the inspiration for the first title. You will enjoy reading The Boss Baby Gets a Starring Role---and Second Billing at Publishers Weekly.  Marla Frazee is a guest at educator and administrator for the Plum Creek Festival, Dylan Teut's blog Mile High Reading.  All The Wonders, Episode 304 by teacher librarian Matthew Winner features Marla Frazee.  Andrea Skyberg hosts a tour of Marla Frazee's studio.

Marla Frazee from Adam Goodwin on Vimeo.

1 comment:

  1. The Boss Baby has to be THE funniest books--it is just so understated and hilarious. It was a worthy sequel, but I still prefer the original--so hilarious and fun to read aloud. It is the perfect baby shower gift too!!