The Trouble with Babies
Junior Library Guild Selection
How I Came to Write This Book
As I pondered what adventures to give Nora in this second title in the Nora Notebooks series, I had just become a first-time grandmother, so I decided to let Nora become a first-time aunt. How satisfying for an a-n-t lover now to have to decide whether or not she loves being an a-u-n-t. My newborn granddaughter and her parents all lived with me (in my very small house!), so I had plenty of material for writing about the disruptions a new baby can bring to a household. I always love writing about school projects, too, so I gave Nora two of my favorites: a science fair experiment (how I love writing about science fairs!) and an Oregon Trail reenactment (I love writing about history, too!).
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.
Fans of Mills's first Nora book will not be disappointed as she delivers another satisfying read.
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.