Book Review: Baby in a Basket

Rating: ★★★★★

In January, 1917, a young mother set out from Fairbanks, Alaska with her two children to spend the rest of winter with relatives in Seattle.  While crossing a river in a snowstorm, with a roadhouse destination in sight, the sleigh overturned and baby Ann was lost in the confusion.  This well-written picture book presents a gripping true story which will raise the heart rate and ultimately comfort young readers with its satisfying ending.  Ted Rand’s superb watercolor paintings bring us into a world of darkness and cold snow everywhere, with a particularly good use of firelight from lanterns, windows and doors to evince the safety and warmth of human company in the relentless Alaskan winter.

As in Sarah Whitcher’s Story, the dangers to the children are starkly presented, although the gravity of the situation may be better appreciated by adult readers than by the young audience the book is intended for.  The sight of sister Ann’s warm cap sweeping away under the river’s ice is enough to chill a parent’s bones, and the young mother’s anguish may bring adult readers to tears.  But young readers appreciate their own vulnerability more than we give them credit for, and they will understand that the baby is in danger.  The joyful celebration when the baby is found helps to release the fearful tension built up during the terrible search.

The story may trouble sensitive readers, and I recommend that adults be available to help children see that although the baby’s mother was not able to rescue her child, still a providential hand was ready to bring her to safety.  For Christian families, the story provides an opportunity to talk about God’s protective care of children, especially those whose parents cannot care for them (see Matthew 10:30-31; Psalm 10:17-18; Psalm 68:5; and many other examples).  It is best suited to an elementary audience.

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Publication Information: Rand, Gloria. Baby in a Basket. Rand, Ted (Illustrator). Cobblehill. 1997. ISBN: 0525652337.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 04-08, Read-Aloud Handbook
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Posted on October 26, 2010


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