I Kissed the Baby

The most striking thing about this picturebook is the way Mary Murphy manages to embody in her work both the graphic quality that will excite the most sophisticated of picturebook connoisseurs and a really appealing cuteness which will have us all going ‘Ahhh!’ The illustrations are spare; predominantly black and white with just a touch of vibrant apple green, magenta or burnt orange placed as a strip on the margin, with all the focus on the wonderful animals that seem to dance to the words on the page. The lettering is always important in Murphy’s work, and she has now created her own font.

The text is all in excited dialogue as news of a new baby is passed around the animals, and each adds to the feeling of community welcoming it through the repeti- tion of their contact with it. While the baby and its parent are ducks (the baby says, ‘Quackie! Quackie! Quackie!’), the other animals are not just the usual farm animals beloved of illustrators for young children, and this adds to the expansive feel of the book. At a guess there is a fish and a pelican, a coot and a marsupial, a frog and a drag- onfly, an ant, a bird who could be a parrot and a mouse. All are reduced (though ‘reduced’ feels the wrong word here) to their bare essentials and all are joyfully depicted. In the end we get to see the baby too, the only brightly coloured one, a lovely yellow duckling.