Name of Book: More More More, Said the Baby
Author: Vera B. Williams
Illustrator: Vera B. Williams
Audience: tToddlers through age 4
Summary: This book tells three parallel stories of toddlers Little Guy, Little Pumpkin, and Little Bird, and of the adults who love them. In each ten-page story Williams begins by introducing the main character in her bright naïve-style portraits: “This is Little Guy.” On the following pages, the toddler gleefully (or sleepily) makes a break for freedom, only to be scooped up by a doting adult who “has to run like anything just to catch that baby up.” What ensues in each story is the unfettered joy of catching (and being caught by) someone who loves you tremendously. The reader can almost hear the giggles coming from these little protagonists as their bellies, toes and sleeping eyelids are kissed. Each story ends with the toddler begging for “more, more, more!”
Literary elements at work in the story: Williams offers the simplest of plots, revolving around the toddler-sized tension: in the great game of Chase, will the baby get away from his or her devoted relative? Though the answer is a foregone conclusion in each case, and though the denouement of adoring silliness is the same, the stories do not grow wearisome but instead build on the overarching theme of love. What really saves More More More from cloying sweetness, however, is Williams’ attention to detail in her paintings of the characters: Little Guy’s shirt is too little, his daddy’s hair is receding, Little Pumpkin’s suspender is falling down, her Grandma is still in her nightgown and housecoat, and Little Bird looks as if she picked her clothes out herself. These are real toddlers and real adults. Williams’ settings for these stories are the interiors of houses or apartments, but that is all we know about them. Each of the first two stories has a chair in the paintings, and the third has a nondescript brown couch. Williams wants us to concentrate on the relationships before us.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? These stories show that love is both particular and universal, or as close to universal as three tiny stories can demonstrate. Little Guy and his daddy are Caucasian; Little Pumpkin is African-American but could be either male or female, and Little Pumpkin’s Grandma might be either African-American or Caucasian; Little Bird and her mother are Asian. As there are no other characters shown or alluded to in any of the stories, the reader is left to focus on the small slice of joyful life shown here.
Theological conversation partners: The most obvious use of More More More would be with very young children as we begin to talk about the characteristics of God: just as your parents and grandparents love you, so does God. With older adolescents and adults, however, this might be a great book to use to demonstrate God’s desire for relationship with humans. We stand separated from God, and we often wander (or run!) off from God just as Little Guy and Little Pumpkin do, but God pursues us. Even when we don’t know we need God, as a sleeping Little Bird rolling off the couch didn’t know she needed her mom, God is right there with us. God’s Spirit catches us up, not with the intention to punish us, but with the intention to marvel at our unique qualities and to rejoice at our very being. Grasped by this overwhelming love, we cry “More, More, More!” This mutual adoration is the relationship God craves.
Faith Talk Questions: (for older students/adults)
- Why do you think the artist pictures only the toddler on the first page of each story?
- Why do you think that the baby runs away in the first two stories?
- What sorts of emotions do the adults demonstrate in these stories? What sorts of emotions are not shown?
- In what ways does the artist show that the adults in these stories love the toddlers?
- These stories begin with toddlers running away and end with the same toddlers crying, “More, more, more!” Why do you think they don’t mind being caught?
- Are there any characteristics that God shares with the adults in these stories?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Beth Lyon-Suhring.