WE LOVE BABIES! by me … and, you know, lots of other talented people.

I have a new book out, We Love Babies!, and I get to pretend it’s mine, all mine…because my name is the only one on the cover. In reality, the ones deserving the credit here are the brilliant design-photo-editorial team at National Geographic Kids. They took my rhyming concept book submission and ran with it, creating a beautiful book beyond my wildest dreams.

Who could resist these penguin cuties?

We Love Babies! is a joyous CHEER covering all the things we love about baby animals:  Their unique and adorable little features. Their funny behavior. Their sweet little squeaks and cheeps and peeps.  

I’m thrilled to share a few spreads.

The poem’s opening lines lead into this p. 6-7 spread with:  Big or tiny, fast or s-l-o-w, smooth or bumpy, short or…

Cheerleaders: We love babies! Yes, we do! We love babies! How about YOU?

Another spread, a few pages beyond…

The stanza above wraps up on the following page with: Webby footsies? We LOVE those!
The accompanying full-spread closeup photo is of three fuzzy yellow ducklings, the teensy feathers and fluff of which look so irresistibly touchable that your fingers will be drawn to the page as you wonder Is this a Touch ’n Feel book? Nope.

Finally, a pair of spreads from the behavior section…

I wish I could show you the entire book here, but that’s impossible. I can tell you there’s a STEM-centric back matter spread, Meet the Babies!, where small round photos identify each species appearing in the book and give the proper name for its young— cub, chick, kit, etc.

I want to give illustrator Sydney Hanson a special shoutout, too. Her cheerleader animal spots who shout the refrain here and there are beyond delightful and add immeasurably to the book’s appeal. THANK YOU, Sydney!!!

Since this post falls smack in the middle of Storystorm (which I encouraged any and all of you picture book writers to sign up for in my last post), I thought I’d tell you what lit the spark for We Love Babies!

Babysitting.

On a hot July day in 2015, I was pacing my daughter’s kitchen, holding my fussy two-month-old granddaughter. Snuggling her close, I whispered nonsensical Grammy things: “Aw, sweetie. It’s okay. Yes, you’re Grammy’s girl, aren’t you? We love babies…yes, we do….”

The ending of that old high school cheer We Got Spirit came into my head—We got spirit, how about you?—followed immediately by a: Whoa. Wait a minute…!

I hustled to the counter, jostling baby B into my left arm so I could jot a note with my right. Less than a week later, I had the manuscript finished, pretty much as it is now.

IF ONLY all ideas would come that easily. They don’t, of course. But I’ll take one when I can get one.

And that granddaughter? She’s four and a half now, and let me tell you how excited she and her two-year-old brother are about this book. When they walked in a few days before Christmas, I showed it to them: “Look! A new book! Baby animals!” My daughter (no doubt envisioning the same sweet photo opp as me) picked right up on it and chimed, “Wow! Hey, guys! Want Grammy to read it to you right now?!” As one, they shrugged out of their coats and chorused, “No.” as they breezed right past us to check under the tree. Soon after, two more beloved grands, three and one, had nearly identical reactions. The fifth grand is only 11 months old and can’t yet walk. I plan to hold him down and read it to him before he gains the power of speech.

I’m hoping YOU will be more eager to check out We Love Babies!, available now wherever books are sold. And if you could do me a favor and ask your friendly librarian to order it, that would be great, too.

** GIVEAWAY ** GIVEAWAY ** GIVEAWAY **

To celebrate the arrival of my book baby, I’m giving away THREE autographed copies to random folks who comment below. Winners will be notified next Friday, January 24th, and announced here in my next post.

188 Comments:

  1. Sorry your photo op was a bust, but you were competing with presents.😍
    Adding WE LOVE BABIES to my library request list.

  2. Oh, I love your back story AND this whole concept! Did you write the rhymes w/specific animals in mind, using illustration notes? Congrats, Jill!

    • Thanks, Tina! I did not have specific animals in mind…except for a note, [giraffe or whale], on the WHOA spread. The back matter spread was another note. During design/photo tweaks, I suggested a non-fluffy chick be swapped for a killdeer chick, and that was done. Otherwise, the photos were all chosen by the photo editor/designer/editor. They’re definitely the experts!

  3. Of COURSE my librarian will have to order 3 or 4 copies – it is so cute the littles will be tempted to nibble it a bit!

    Congrats Jill!

  4. Sounds wonderful! Can’t wait to read it. Congratulations!

  5. Yes, those photos are adorable, but I love your bouncy, clever, perfectly-rhymed text!! Congratulations, Jill!!

  6. What an adorable and gorgeous book…I can’t wait to read it!

    Congratulations!

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    Becky Scharnhorst

    What a fun idea! I imagine it will be flying off the shelves with those adorable penguins on the cover. Thanks for sharing the story of how this book came to be!

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    Debra Kempf Shumaker

    OMG, so adorable!!!!! And I’ve been doing Storystorm for years, starting when it was PiBoIdMo. I LOVE how that challenge led to this book!

  9. We love babies and w love you, Jill. You never know when an idea will storm into your life and best fruit. Congrats to you and the Nat. Geo team. Love the rhyme in this book.

  10. I’m right there with you, Jill! I am obsessed with babies – human or otherwise. It’s one reason why I became a pediatric nurse practitioner. Congratulations on this adorable book!

  11. I can’t wait to get this one for my grand babies Jill! The rhythm and rhyme will be delightful to read out loud. And the photos are adorable! Congratulations to you and everyone who worked on this book!

  12. Love that this idea morphed into such a wonderful book. Grandkids are the best for inspiring ideas. Congratulations. Can’t wait to read it.

  13. Love this backstory and your rollicking rhyme! Looking forward to reading this book to my grandchildren!

  14. Grandchildren inspire the best ideas. Congratulations! Can’t wait to read this book to my own grandkids.

  15. Sometimes grandkids want to be read to and sometimes they want to play at grandmas house. Your book is beautiful.

  16. It looks adorable, Jill. Congrats! This Granna knows two littles who would love this book.

  17. What an awww-some book. Those photos and the rhyming. ❤️ Can’t wait to see the whole thing. I’m just getting around to watching Yellowstone Live and enjoying all the babies on it, too.

  18. The book looks great! I love your nonfiction books!

  19. Love how Storystorm and your two-month-old granddaughter inspired this beautiful book. Your catchy rhythm and rhyme make it a great read-aloud! Soon all your grandkids will be shouting the words that come next!

  20. Congratulations on your book! Loved reading how the story idea came to you. I hope your grandkids will come around.

  21. Congrats on a beautiful book all around! I’ve already ordered four for the babies I love (yes, I do!) in my life. Only wish I had had you here to sign before I needed to give them away. I have saved one back for myself and will get the coveted autograph next time I see you. Want you to know I read the book aloud to myself twice the day I got it because it was so darn much fun. Good thing my husband didn’t walk in during the cheers, or he’d think I was losing my grip. 😊 Love the word choice and the way this flows. And you’re right, the pics are adorable. A gem.

  22. Love this post and book, Jill! Hooray for babies & rhyme!

  23. Keep on pacing with that baby! (Picture the baby at 12 in your arms, inspiring books for Grandma!) It’s darling! Congratulations!!

  24. Oh my, cuteness overload! Thanks for writing such a sweet, lyrical book on one of my favorite subjects -babies! Congrats!!

  25. Congrats, Jill! This sounds adorable.

  26. My 18-month old will love this book. He claps and dances when you chant his name. It’s amazing how ideas can come from anywhere. Congratulations!

  27. Congratulations, Jill. I love how this idea came flying right at you and you jumped on it. Well done! And so cute, too.

  28. I totally understand the failed photo op, but I LOVE baby animals and can’t wait to get my hands on this book. I know it’s going to be a favorite!

  29. Oh, Jill! This is adorable! What a clever idea. It’s nice every once in a while serendipity hands us an idea right there in the moment. Congratulations! I look forward to sharing this one with my grandkids!

  30. Looks like fun book, Jill. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for informing me that my grand babines won’t want to hear any books that I author.
    Ha!

  31. I love animal babies! What a fantastic book. Congratulations!

  32. Can’t wait to share this book with my grandkids (almost 5 and just-turned-2). It looks like a book they will absolutely love! I wish I had had it before Christmas – I bought and wrapped enough books for both of them to pick one each night for the two weeks before Christmas. Their parents said it was a “genius idea”, as it got them excited for bedtime!

  33. What beautiful babies! This would make a great gift!

  34. Avatar
    Danielle Hammelef

    Wow to your idea and how it materialized! I so enjoy your rhyming and want to read this gorgeous book myself for mentor text. I’m inspired!

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    Sharalyn Edgeberg

    Love how this story idea came about. Congratulations on this lovely new book!

  36. Who doesn’t love babies! Congrats, Jill! It looks adorable. Thanks for sharing about your new book.

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    Janet Frenck Sheets

    We’ve usually adopted pets that were full-grown. No regrets, but I’ve often wished I could have seen them as puppies or kittens. Baby animals are so adorable!

  38. What a fun book with cute photos to match!

  39. A post that makes the reader smile and that is a good thing!

  40. Jill, the book looks wonderful! Who doesn’t love babies? Congratulations.

  41. I love this…and love how the story came to you!

  42. Congratulations on your book baby, from what we can see here it looks perfect. My favourite page/s so far is ‘We love crawlers, playful bouncers, swimmers, danglers, bouncers.’

  43. What a great concept–and execution!

  44. Who can resist the cover photo of baby penguins?! I love reading the backstory of this book. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

    Will definitely suggest to our school library to purchase a copy.

    • I know! They’re so dang cute. Thanks for visiting and especially for suggesting your school purchases a copy for their library. 🙂

  45. One of my life dream was to be a Nat Geo photographer. I even went on a trip to Mexico with photographers during Dia De Los Muertos. It was incredible. I love what they do. Your book looks wonderful and filled with al the photos that make me smile.

    I would love to know more about your submission process to them.

    Congratulations on your beautiful book. Thank you for sharing it’s creation story.

    • WOW, how fascinating, Sarah! NGKids’ submission guidelines are on their website. I already knew my editor from doing work for hire for her, but submitting is never a slam dunk…otherwise, I’d have lots more books with them!

  46. Avatar
    Jennifer Lane Wilson

    Oh baby is this cute! Kids will love this.

  47. Makes me want to cuddle them all! Well done.

  48. Awwwww!!!! What a special book. Thanks for sharing the backstory with us also!

  49. Baby animals are always in season!

  50. Your new book is so cute! I love the rhyming text. Thank you for sharing the way the idea came to be. You never know when creative inspiration will find you!

  51. Can’t wait to see these new books!

  52. So cute! Love the cover and the babies!!!

  53. I love baby animals too! Is that Cincinnati’s own Fiona in the swimmer photo?

  54. I love knowing your inspiration behind the book! And oh what a cute book it is!! Can’t wait to read it!!🤸🏼‍♀️🤸🏽‍♂️🤸🏼‍♀️🤸🏽‍♂️🤸🏼‍♀️🤸🏽‍♂️

  55. I think I have to add this to my Jill Esbaum collection! Adorable! So nice that the idea came so easily to you. Congrats! !

  56. What a funny story. Kids! Someday it will be their treasure.

  57. Thanks for sharing the story behind the book! This one looks like so much fun!

  58. This looks adorable! I can’t wait to read it!
    I enjoyed reading where you got the idea for this story. Congratulations!

  59. I loved hearing how the idea came about! I, too, sing my own lyrics to old high school cheers! Or I sing “Wake up Charley” to the old Willy Wonka tune “Cheer up Charlie” in the mornings when it’s time for my oldest to get ready for school. I can’t wait to read this!

    • Oh, funny, Deborah! When our daughter was in high school and would stumble down the steps to the kitchen early in the morning, all tangle haired and grumpy, my husband would greet her by singing, “Therrrre she is…Miss America!” Drove her crazy.

  60. Congratulations Jill! I’m excited to see this book in person. It looks absolutely adorable. Those cute little penguins are perfect for National Penguin Awareness Day, which is on January 20th! Thanks for sharing your story behind it. May you have a wonderful day.

  61. You know if I don’t win one, I am going to go buy one anyway 😉 Love babies and your books! Grandchildren, don’t ya love ’em. LOL Fun story.

  62. Parents, caregivers, family members, librarians, and teachers are going to clamor for WE LOVE BABIES. Your words…the graphics….a sheer delight!!!

  63. Beautiful, darling, adorable, and fun to read! This would have been a family fave for sure. Congratulations, Jill!

  64. Thanks, Jen!

  65. Wow, even though your granddaughter’s baby-ness inspired the book, she still wasn’t tempted? Tough crowd. I think our local library will be more receptive.

  66. Congratulations, Jill, on this book! I would just love to show it to my grand-niece. She’s just the right age. I love how you came up with the idea. Beautiful

  67. With my fingers crossed for a special delivery in 2020, I promise it will be the first book I give my adopted grand baby. Doesn’t matter if I win it or buy it…we LOVE babies!!

  68. I am an elementary librarian and my students LOVE animal babies! This book is on my current wishlist as I know it will get snatched up immediately. Thanks for sharing how the idea and book came to be. 🙂

  69. Congratulations Jill! Looking forward to reading this one!

  70. WE LOVE BABIES looks and a sounds amazing! Thanks for the sneak preview. Our family has a special love of penguins so the cover is perfect. I hope to share it with our 13 month old first grandchild very soon. I love your personal tales about your “beloved grands,” and now, after 13 months of delight, I completely understand why you use that label. Congratulations!!

  71. Congratulations, Jill. Kiddos everywhere are going to love it! Cheers to your upcoming photo op when those grandkids slow down for a moment. I’m going to request a library copy and can’t wait to send this in future New Baby book baskets. So cute!

  72. Esbaum rhymes and Nat Geo photos—what’s not to love! Congrats on this wonderful book.

  73. Congratulations Jill! I remember you talking about that book at the spring retreat a few years ago. Can’t wait to take a peek at it! My five year old really LOVES babies 😂

  74. I love this story about getting the idea for the book, Jill…I DO wish all ideas came that easy! So glad this one did–CONGRATS!!!!

  75. Thanks for this, Jill. The backstory–and frontstory–were great, and I can’t wait to see the whole book. I’m going to try to read it to my new grand niece and nephew when I see them. I’ll be sure there are no competing presents around.

  76. What a perfect book for little ones and the parents who read to them!

  77. This looks absolutely adorable, Jill! Congratulations on another fantastic book!

  78. Oh, Jill, this looks adorable! And the rhymes sounds like so much fun! I’m excited for you! I would love to read this to my grandchildren, who will hopefully sit right down and listen!

  79. Super cute! Love how that idea came to you!

  80. This book looks adorable! Congratulations!

  81. This looks fantastic. I’m smitten! Congratulations, Jill.

  82. Hilarious response from grandkids. Of course that was ONLY because of the holiday havoc.

  83. Oh mercy! Is this adorable!

  84. Your story about the photo-op had me cracking up – kids will be kids! And babies will always be adorable…

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    Michelle Garcia Andersen

    I will definitely ask my librarian to order this adorable book! Congratulations!

  86. Thanks so much, Michelle!

  87. Jill this looks adorable.

  88. Congratulations on your multi-paged bundle of joy! I look forward to sharing it with the little ones in my life – whether they want me to or not. =)

  89. Haha! Hope they don’t run away, Bridget. 🙂

  90. So fun and I love all the great animal pics! Congrats.

  91. I’m late to the party but Congratulations Jill!!! This is pure delight. And as always I love the story behind the story too.

  92. I could look at baby animals all day! The photos, in conjunction with the rhymes, makes this book a winner. Two paws up!

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