Sheree Fitch, winner of the 1998 Vicky Metcalf award for a body of work that has inspired Canadian children, has tried her hand at poetry, picture books, non-fiction, novels, and plays for various ages. Now she takes on the deceptively simple form of the board book and once again hits a home run. Kisses Kisses Baby-O! is rhythmic, simple, and sweet – everything that a very slim, sturdy book for the youngest of children should be.
Intriguing illustrations by artist and graphic designer HildaRose are a great complement to Fitch’s bouncy, easy rhyme, which takes different babies through a day of regular baby activities with lots of loving from parents and siblings. The texture of paint on canvas is actually visible on the page. Although the colours are soft pastels with earthy browns for contrast, HildaRose uses clear lines and precise details to draw in the very realistic faces of the babies and family members. It’s a clever mix of the hard realism of photographic imagery and the dreamy, creamy softness of illustration. Altogether, the technique makes for a unique, interesting, and atmospheric set of images of children, babies, and parents of different ethnic backgrounds.
From morning, when “Eyes blink open/ Sun winks in /Hello baby!/ Day begins,” through the “Slurpy/ Burpy/ Snuggle/ Huggle” of an evening nursing session, and on to the last tender photo of a little girl gently kissing her baby sibling to the tune of “Eyelash kisses/ Head to toe/ Love you/ Love you/ Baby-O,” this little book is a gentle, rollicking delight.