Books — Granite Baby

Granite Baby

By Lisa Parsons

A N.H. fairy tale

Or, parenting tips for the real rockheads among us 

Granite Baby, by Lynne Bertrand, pictures by Kevin Hawkes; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005.

Granite Baby, a wonderfully imaginative new children’s picture book, has taught me that tall tales are a lot more fun when they relate to your own neck of the woods. Paul Bunyan and the northwest forests, OK, whatever… Davy Crockett out west with the coonskin cap and the rifle… nice, but not heart-stirring for me personally. But this? Granite so plentiful it’s used to make everything from boots to blankets? A swarm of black flies harnessed to pull a wagon? A raw piece of maple lumber that weighs more than the whole state of Vermont? Yes, yes and yes. I chuckled. I nodded. I thought, that’s not a half bad idea, using the flies like that.

Author Lynne Bertrand was born and raised in New Hampshire and has written several children’s books. Illustrator Kevin Hawkes lives in Maine and has drawn award-winning picture books. With Granite Baby, they have concocted a story of five gigantic sisters who aren’t fazed by huge mountains or wide rivers but are flummoxed by a tiny baby.

One of them builds this baby out of granite, but soon enough it comes to life and, being a baby, begins to wail.

They try dressing it. They try rocking it. They try entertaining it with toys (including fisher-cats made out of string). Nothing works until… I won’t spoil the ending for you. But it’s a nice one. (Basically, they just have to chill out.)

The story and illustrations are amusing and they work wonderfully together. Hawkes has gotten the proportions just right, towering giants, tiny baby and all, and Bertrand’s story has exactly the right pitch for a modern New England-set tall tale, with all the appropriate elements and knowing asides.

Particularly for New Hampshire parents (or, heck, New Hampshire anybody) this one is worth seeking out.

- Lisa Parsons

2005 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH