Baby's Firsts Book
Baby's Firsts Book
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Baby's Firsts

Written by Nancy Raines Day and illustrated by Michael Emberley

Published by Charlesbridge

Publisher's Summary

Told in rhyming text, the story traces the development of a baby from birth to his first birthday.


Topics in Baby's Firsts

Where did you originally get the idea for Baby's Firsts?

I've always loved performance arts, film, theatre, and animation. And have always felt a picture book tells a story much like a film, with characters, sets, costumes, script, and acting. The characters have to ""perform"" on the page, communicating as much by expression and gesture as words.

This is why I use several "animated" sequences in this book. This book seemed particularly suited, since babies do not speak words for most of their first year, their life is spent watching, listening and moving. I really enjoy trying to capture the perfect pose or movement to silently expand the text beyond the words alone.

By Michael Emberley (illustrator)

Were there any pivotal changes that your story/illustrations underwent throughout the writing/editing process?

Baby's Firsts recalls and celebrates a series of landmarks in a baby's first year. As a text, the baby grows and develops on the page as a linear stream of events. But designing a picture book, the words and events must be divided into a dozen two page spreads, each a discrete moment, with a pause between page turns. This requires designers and illustrators to work out how to tell the story in episodes that make sense.

One change I suggested was the "first cry" seemed important enough to given it's own stand alone spread.This meant moving all the rest of the text around to fit.

Something rarely understood is how it's left to the illustrator to connect text purely with art. I worked on several versions of a four line spread before linking them with a "night time in a hospital" theme. It allowed a cool color theme to link them as well as a sleepy, intimate mood. Another illustration featuring baby's first bath, was rejected as "unsafe" without a parents hands in the frame. I hated the idea of these hands invading each image, so finally came up with the idea of the first bath being less about the baby, and more about the mother, getting soaked, dripping with bath water. I think it's funnier too...

By Michael Emberley (illustrator)

What was the hardest part about creating Baby's First?

The hardest part of this book for me personally was trying to make a fresh statement on babies, since I have done more books involving babies than any other topic! What helped me was thinking more about the parents and their experience with their baby as one character. A new baby is only really away from an adult when it's sleeping. It's first year a symbiotic partnership with an adult, almost one being. Usually, the hardest part of a book for an illustrator is not finding the right image to depict each line of text, but rethinking the text as a basis for a visual idea that fills in what the text does not describe.

By Michael Emberley (illustrator)

What do you hope children enjoy about your characters?

There was no one main character in this book, but a single group character - new babies and parents. Not having children of my own, it would seem difficult to understand the life of new parents, but I had many years of working on books about babies and parents over the years, including two specifically about new borns - Happy Birthday!, and Hi New Baby, (both written by Robie Harris).

No live models were used in this book. They are all expressions of my imagination. I've spent years studying, watching, and learning, as well as observing friends and strangers with their children out in the world, particularly local cafes where I often sit and sketch while I enjoy a cup of warm coffee.

By Michael Emberley (illustrator)

Did you have a specific audience in mind when you created Baby's Firsts?

Babies, big-sisters-and-brothers-to-be, parents, grandparents, and anyone in search of the perfect new baby, shower, or first birthday gift

By Nancy Raines Day (author)

When was your favorite time reading Baby's Firsts aloud? Why?

I read it to my literary agency mates before it was published. When I got to "first word," the one baby in the room loudly chimed in "Gaaa!" She brought down the house.

By Nancy Raines Day (author)


  • Age Range: 0-3
  • Pages: 32
  • Book Type: picture
  • Publication Date: January 1, 2018
  • ISBN: 1580897746
  • ISBN 13: 978-1580897747
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Nancy Raines Day

Nancy Raines Day is known for her warm and witty rhyming and concept books, most recently Baby’s Firsts, Hoorade Day! and Pirate Jack Gets Dressed. Her colorful past includes growing up on the East Coast, attending college in the Midwest, and raising a family on the West Coast. Now she lives with her husband and three cats in Georgia’s Golden Isles. Nancy is the author of a dozen picture books. Among her favorite subjects are nature and animals, math and music. She is powered by white chocolate mochas, her favorite refreshment as she works.

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Nancy Raines Day
Michael Emberley

Michael Emberley is perhaps best known as the illustrator of Robie H. Harris’s books on human sexuality: It’s Perfectly Normal, It’s So Amazing, and It’s Not the Stork (Candlewick). His father Ed Emberley also makes children’s books. Michael lives in Ireland.

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Michael Emberley

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