Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Trouble with Babies

This is how bad of a "book mother" I am to my own "book children." I didn't even realize that today was the pub date of my newest title, The Trouble with Babies, the second book in the Nora Notebooks series, until my agent sent me a congratulatory email about it this morning. I had the vague idea it was coming out some time in September. In any case, this is my 55th book, and I guess I've become a bit lackadaisical about "pub dates." Unless you are J. K. Rowling with the whole world waiting for a midnight release party for the latest Harry Potter, the actual date of a book's publication matters very little.

But, oh, Nora, I do feel guilty for forgetting all about you! Once I got my agent's email, I hastened to post the cover on Facebook, and friends have been generously clicking "like" for it all morning. And now I'll give this new book its own small shout-out here. 

Kirkus Reviews had this to say about The Trouble with Babies

With a new baby at home and an incompatible science-fair partner at school, fourth-grader Nora Alpers has trouble everywhere. Ant-observer Nora is not so sure about becoming an aunt herself. The budding scientist's older sister's new baby has disrupted the household and seems to cry constantly. She'd love to be able to experiment on niece Nellie for the science fair, but her family and her partner, Emma Averill, both nix that. What Emma wants is for Nora to have a baby-viewing party for her classmates, but Nora can't even bring herself to ask her mother and sister if that's OK. On top of that, she has to write diary entries about an imaginary westward trip in which she is happily married to Dunk, the classmate she dislikes most. The third-person narrative sticks to Nora's perspective as she comes to terms with the changes in her family and solves her school issues in ways that satisfyingly reflect her own quirky self. Along the way, she provides dozens of interesting notebook entries about babies. "Most Caucasian babies have grayish blue eyes, and the color often changes by the fifth or sixth month." Like Nellie, Nora and most of the other characters appear to be white. This charming second title in the Nora Notebooks series is a fine place for middle-grade readers to be introduced to Nora's engaging curiosity about the world. (Fiction. 7-10)

And The Bulletin from the Center for Children's Books (who have consistently given me the most thoughtful reviews of my career) wrote: 

Fourth-grader Nora (from The Trouble with Ants, BCCB 10/15) should be overjoyed: it’s the season of the science fair, which she loves, and her older sister is about to have a baby, making Nora an aunt. Unfortunately, on the school front, she’s been partnered up for the science fair with classmate Emma, who loves cats, the color pink, and, especially, her own way. On the home front, super-competent Nora is completely thrown by baby Nellie, uncertain of how to interact with her and startled by her scientist parents’ and sister’s descent into baby-craziness. Mills deploys her usual sympathetic yet keen insight into her characters as Nora negotiates these challenges. The book is particularly thoughtful in exploring the implications of personality; Emma proves there’s more to her than Nora had credited, and Nora both gets over her discomfort with the baby and adjusts her view of herself. As in the last book, segments from Nora’s scientific journal are interspersed, this time containing her research and observations about babies. Kath’s monochromatic line and watercolor art is scribbly without being cartoonish, conveying energy and also respect for the kids. The problems are standard middle-grade challenges that will ring true to readers, while the thought-provoking reflections on personality and growth add insight and discussability.

So, welcome to the world, my sweet little book. I'm a forgetful, neglectful mama, but I do love you, I do!


  1. There was a fine writer with too much to do,
    who had so many "book children" she forgot one or two.
    But which of her readers would not do the same
    With fifty-five (and counting!) books to her name?

  2. Claudia,
    No need to approve and publish this comment, as I don't want to embarrass you, but I didn't see a post about Cody Harmon either, and I know you love that book child too. I have some catching up to do with your latest works, having just read and enjoyed Simon. Now I want to make that honey pie too!

  3. Julie, first of all, I love your poem!!! And second of all, I'm so happy that you gave me the chance to give Cody a little shoutout, too. I think I felt more protective about THE TROUBLE WITH BABIES because Cody all on his own got a couple of nice accolades - a starred review in Kirkus and selection as a book-of-the-month for Amazon. But he definitely deserves some love, as well. And thanks for noticing that!