We Shall Overcome: The Bare-Footed, Bad-Tempered Baby Brigade by Deborah Deison
"WE CAN'T WALK YET, BUT WE'RE MARCHING IN PROTEST,"
WE HAVE PLENTY TO SAY AND IT'S TIME THAT YOU HEARD IT.
TAKE NOTES, YOU'LL NEED THEM. WE'll TRY TO BE CLEAR.
WE WON'T WASH OUR FACES; WE WON'T EAT OUR MASHED PEAS!
WE WON'T WEAR FRILLY CLOTHES THAT GREAT-GRANDMA MADE!
WE'RE A BARE-FOOTED, BAD-TEMPERED BABY BRIGADE!"
It's hard to stage a protest march when some of your demonstrators are still crawling, but the baby brigade means business, and bearing hand-lettered signs that shout "NO!" and "GOO-GOO GA-GA!" they crawl to town hall and give voice to all the complaints babies have always made non-verbally--too many baths, squishy baby food that's green and purple, early bedtimes, itchy clothes, and all:
"IF YOU'RE READY, WE'RE READY. LET'S SET SOME THINGS STRAIGHT.
WE WON'T GET OUR HAIR CUT.
WE WON'T WEAR OUR SUN CAPS.
WE WON'T PLAY WITH SMART TOYS THAT SKIP US A GRADE.
WE WON'T TAKE OUR NAPS.
WE'RE THE BARE-FOOTED, BAD-TEMPERED BABY BRIGADE."
It's a mini-manifesto from the cutest bunch of little protestors you'll ever see, in Deborah Dieson's The Barefooted, Bad-Tempered, Baby Brigade (Tricycle Books, 2011), illustrated with comic sweetness by Tracy Dockray. The wee whiners crawl, toddle, and push each other in strollers as they press their case with their well-meaning parents, ending with a simple but moving plea.
WE KEEP YOU UP NIGHTS AND WRECK PLANS THAT YOU'VE MADE.
WE'RE THE BARE-FOOTED, BAD-TEMPERED BABY BRIGADE.
BUT NOW THAT WE'RE DONE AND OUR POINT HAS BEEN MADE,
WOULD YOU HOLD US AND SNUGGLE US,
AND SING US A SONG?
WE KNOW WE'RE A BAD-TEMPERED BABY BRIGADE,
BUT WE WON'T BE BAD-TEMPERED,
OR BABIES FOR LONG!"
Older kids will giggle at the baby protests against naptimes and strained peas while still feeling a twinge of sympathy for similar rules for older kids, while parents, especially those whose first little ones have already grown big, will empathize with the fact that babies won't always be babies. As the Booklist reviewer puts it, "The scenarios of the rebels in action are as much fun as the climax, when they get the snuggle they want. A great early read-aloud, with a thumping, rhythmic text that kids will want to hear many times over."