Written by Tim Myers, Illustrated by Kelly Murphy
Candlewick Press, 2005
Long ago a family had a farm in a valley deep in the mountains of Norway. There they worked hard and were happy. But after a third child was born to them, things were not so rosy.
Eek! It’s a: Witch! And a family of trolls!
The farmer’s family has trouble when their new baby sleeps all day and cries all night. At the same time, a family of trolls on the other side of the mountain is dealing with a new baby who cries all day and sleeps all night. A passing witch hears the two new babies and mischievously switches them. At first, both families are pleased to have a baby who sleeps at the right time, but soon both babies begin acting strangely. The fathers quickly get frustrated, but the mothers insist that with love & proper teaching, the babies will learn the correct behavior. Later, as the witch is passing back through, she hears both mothers singing to the babies and, annoyed that everyone seems okay with the situation, switches the babies back, which results in a happy ending for everyone.
Author Tim Myers has written this as a modern fairy tale that would be a great book to share with anyone who has a new baby in the house. He plays around with the differences in human and troll families, especially concerning their diets. Kids are sure to enjoy the human baby refusing to eat earthworm soup, for instance. Illustrator Kelly Murphy brings both families to life through acrylic, watercolor and gel medium artwork that also plays up the differences, while still showing us the similarities in family dynamics. The ending mentions that both families eventually forget about all the trouble they had with their baby and that this is ‘usually how it goes,’ which is so true.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that every new baby becomes part of whatever family offers it love, patience and education.