Gentle teaching, snuggling and playtime moments between wildlife mothers and their children are the highlight of Hodgkins’s offering. “If you were my baby beaver, I would show you how to build well, using branches, mud, and hard work.” A mother bat would snuggle her baby upside down, while a duck mom would paddle ahead of her ducklings, leading them. The final spread celebrates the fact that, “YOU are my baby,” and we can delight in nature?s wonders together. While meant to be a lullaby, not all of the animals? interactions are sleep-inducing, nor is there a tune. Regardless, if the goal is to introduce a love of nature, this will do it. The illustrations are beautifully detailed and yet softly muted at the same time. The animals are center-stage, perfect for the youngest listeners. This is similar to Kate McMullan?s If You Were My Bunny (2003). Where this one is without the accompanying lullabies of the other, it makes up for it with the art.
— Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2005)
If You Were My Baby: A Wildlife Lullaby by Fran Hodgkins gives little ones a charming look at the wonders of the wild and the joys of family. In this breezy read-along, parents of every species imaginable – from skunks and beavers to bears and bats – share affectionate moments with their young, imparting important lessons and words of encouragement. The cute critters, depicted by Laura Bryant in their natural environments with wonderful detail, make this a terrific introduction to nature. An adorable addition to your child’s collection.
— Bookpage (September 2005)
How can a feel-good children’s bedtime picture book possibly be unique? If You Were My Baby combines the classic theme of love between parent and child with a factual view of animals. It’s a unique blend of love-song and non-fiction that tenderly explores the care that exists between parent and child – no matter what the species.
This book by Fan Hodgkins was inspired by three generations of women. Fran’s mother taught her to love nature, and how to watch and “really see.” One of Fran’s early memories is watching for hours as a spider built a web on her tire swing. Worms, bugs, and a wayward sparrow chick were part of her life. As a mother, Fran passed her love of wild things on to her daughter Rosie, “without even really thinking about it.” From their backyard in Lynn, Massachusetts, to the beach, to the forest, they watch wildlife.
Illustrator Laura J. Bryant, of Mathias, West Virginia, saw several of the animals portrayed in If You Were My Baby come very close to her studio window while she was painting for the book. Animals that came to her included deer, fox ducks, bats, possum, squirrels, skunks, and even a bear. She intended that her style of art for the book would help children see their connection to nature and enhance the feeling of warmth between parent and child. “I wanted the design of this book to be simple but visually luxurious, providing a consistent thread to the individual poems,” she said.
— Entro – The Mom’s Choice Award Magazine (Spring 2008)
If you were a mother animal, what would you say to your baby? In this “Sharing Nature With Children Book” from Dawn Publications, author Fran Hodgkins combines a gentle love song with factual information to describe what animal parents do with their little ones. Squirrels nest. Otters play in the sea. Bears emerge in spring from winter’s hibernation. Possum babies ride on their mother’s back. Deer walk through the grass. Ducks paddle in the pond. Bison explore the prairie. Wolves howl. Foxes run. Beavers build dams. Skunks have to learn patience to give others fair warning. Mountain goats climb cliffs. Bats fly through the night. But what do human mamas do?
What a wonderful bedtime story for parents to read to their children! Not only does it help to stimulate a young child’s interest in nature, but it also uses the care that exists between the parents and offspring of many species to illustrate and extol the love of mothers and fathers for their children. If You Were My Baby has won several awards, including the Mom’s Choice Award Honoring Excellence. And any book that celebrates the love of family in such a cute and cuddly way is a winner with me too.
— Stories for Children Magazine – Wayne S. Walker (May 2009)
Delightful! Heartwarming! Beautifully written and illustrated! These are a few words that come to mind after reading If You Were My Baby. If mother’s care for an unusual group of animal babies – otters, possums, bisons, wolves, foxes, beavers, skunks, mountain goats and bats – mingle with the more usual ducks and bears, it will lead up to the mother of a human child and her loving care. A wonderful bed-time “love-in.” A delightful read with a group of 2’s and 3’s, Heck – 4’s!
— Missouri State Univ. Book Review Board (December 2006)
Children ages 2 to 7 will enjoy this bedtime book, which invites readers into the parent-child environments of squirrels, otters, bears, possums, and bisons. Sometimes I have difficulty locating good reading material for younger children. If You Were My Baby makes it onto my Top 10 list.
Fran Hodgkins describes a variety of animals rearing their offspring with encouraging words. “If you were my baby deer, I would help you learn to step lightly and find sweet flowers and grass,” declares on spread, as Laura J. Bryant’s illustrations show a deer cuddling her fawn. Bryant, who studies animals near her home in the mountains of West Virginia, creates beautiful scenes of wildlife with wonderful images of parenting. The 10-by-12 inch If You Were My Baby is a marvelous choice for window display.
— New Age Retailer – Rev. Tina Richards (Spring 2006)
Dawn Publications specializes in books for children that inspire a deeper understanding and appreciation for all life on Earth. If You Were My Baby is a bedtime (or anytime) picture book that combines the classic theme of love between parent and child – no matter what species. Author, Fran Hodgkins, of Sparks, Maryland, was inspired by her mother who taught her to love nature, and how to watch nature and “really see.” As a mother, Fran passed this love of nature on to her own daughter. Together they explored wildlife in the backyard, at the beach, and in the forest. Illustrator, Laura Bryant lives in Mathias, West Virginia, where animals come to her studio window. Laura’s illustrations are large and simple. The gentleness of the animals show closeness and warmth between parent and baby. Recommended for ages 2-7.
— West Virginia Family Magazine – Carla Cosner (April/May 2007)
Dawn Publications specializes in books for children that inspire a deeper understanding and appreciation for all life on Earth. If You Were My Baby is a bedtime (or anytime) picture book that combines the classic theme of love between parent and child – no matter what species. Author Fran Hodgkins of Sparks, Maryland was inspired by her mother who taught her to love nature, and how to watch nature and “really see.” As a mother, Fran passed this love of nature on to her daughter. Together they explored wildlife in the backyard, at the beach, and in the forest. Illustrator Laura Bryant lives in Mathias, West Virginia, where animals come to her studio window. Laura’s illustrations are large and simple. The gentleness of the animals show closeness and warmth between parent and baby.
— Parent Line – Carla Cosner (August 2007)
Available both in picture book and board book formats, If You Were My Baby pairs the love connection between parents and children with a unique animal view of the world. “If you were my baby otter, I would give you the sea for a playground and rock you in the waves,” says the otter mother. Each new page introduces a new animal – the last being a human – and factual elements that children can relate to as demonstrations of parental love in the animal world. While some pages are humorous (the skunk mother suggests patience to her baby in her advice “to give others fair warning before you act”), others will appeal to children for their sheer playfulness (baby ducks paddle, baby wolves sing to the stars, baby beavers build). This book shows that lullabies can be both sweet and educational.
— Golden Gate Mothers Group – Laure Latham Guyot (November 2008)
Children love animals … and so do their mothers. This beautiful book explores the relationship between parents and their young across many species. Readers learn about characteristics of many different animals and how parents care for them. The culmination, of course is a human parent assuring his child. The playful illustrations help a child feel like he’s part of the bigger world.
— Kids Vermont (April 2006)
If you were my baby squirrel,/ I would welcome you to the world/ In a secret nest I made just for you.
And so begins this tender bedtime story. Following the same format on each page—three poetic lines written from a parental perspective—children are introduced to a different species of wildlife and a sentimental ethic of care or curiosity about that particular animal. Possums carry babies on their back. Mama duck leads her ducklings through “the wonders of lakes and ponds.” A beaver kit (that’s what a young beaver is called) learns how to build through hard work. Etcetera.
The delightfully captivating images will keep this book from gathering dust on the shelf. It’s also a wonderful means of instilling in children the idea that animals, like people, have family units which are very important, not only for survival, but for quality of life.
— Vegbooks (August 19, 2010)
A mother imagines how she would treat her child if she was a wild animal, such as a squirrel, otter, possum, or bison. The descriptions of each mother animals behavior is succinct – long enough to be clear and short enough to provoke discussion about the motivation and circumstances prompting the behavior. Pleasant illustrations accompany the text.
— Horn Book (January – June 2006)
Forest animals care for their offspring in If You Were My Baby: A Wildlife Lullaby, a unique book from Fran Hodgkins that spins non-fiction into a gentle bedtime story perfect for lulling your precious little one into dreamland. As children listen to this beautifully written picture book, they will drift off to sleep feeling safe and secure, as they come to understand all the ways parents show their love to their children – be they animal or human.
— Arizona Parenting – Lynda Exley (February 2006)
Just as baby duck and baby possum bask in the loyal care of a parent, so does baby human. Baby mountain goat is guided up the highest cliffs. Baby beaver will build well. Baby human will soar in her own sky, and delight in nature’s wonders. Moms and dads, this is a truly comforting sweet-dream book.
— Kern County Family – Kathleen E. Conroy (May 2006)
This is a classic example of an outstanding picture book where the text and illustrations equally carry the story. The tender care so obvious between parent and child fills you with warm satisfaction and a feeling of security in a world that is often turbulent. The beautiful double spread illustrations invite a read aloud experience, but is equally effective with one-to-one. My grandsons will be getting this for Christmas – if I can wait that long.
— Learning Explorations – Barbara Geiger, President (September 2005)
Sweet picture book for small children that teaches about the different things that animal parents teach their babies.
— Children of the Earth (www.childrenoftheearth.org) (April 2008)
Fran Hodgkins’ If You Were My Baby: A Wildlife Lullaby is the perfect end-to-the-day book for nature-loving adults and young children. On each double page, an animal parent voices a promise to its child. “If you were my baby otter, I would give you the sea for a playground and rock you in the waves.”
Young children will hear the promises of papa and mama squirrels, bears, possums, deer ducks, bison, wolves, bats, mountain goats and many more. The lyrical text is simple – just right for a lullaby. Each verse is supported by full-page, detailed drawings of animal families in their habitats.
Children will learn about animals in nature, and they will fall asleep knowing that they, too, are part of that natural love of parents for their offspring.
— The Capital-Journal (Topeka, KS)- Gary & Barbara Bleeker (October 9, 2005)
At bedtime, a parent explains how various animals love and care for their young. Baby squirrels have secret nests, baby otters are rocked in the waves, and baby ducks are taught the wonders of water. This is a good connection for children to the world of nature around them.
— The Children’s Hour – www.tchliteracy.com (January 2006)