Title: Baby Goes to Market
Author: Atinuke
Illustrator: Angela Brooksbank
Published by Walker Books
RRP: $24.99

When Baby and Mama go to market, Mama does the shopping while Baby is strapped to her back. Mama carries a basket on her head into which she puts her shopping. At each stop, Baby is given a number of goodies from stall holders, eats one of them and puts the rest in Mama’s basket, all unbeknown to Mama. What a surprise Mama gets when she looks in her basket! Mama thinks Baby must be hungry, so they hurry home. Set in a West African market, this is a lovely story of community and sharing.

This is an absolutely wonderful picture book for so many reasons. The market stalls and sellers were inspired by those known to the author and illustrator. Atinuke is a Nigerian author while Angela Brookslank grew up in West Africa. Not having been to a West African market, I can imagine what it would be like through this creation, colourful and friendly, with a great community spirit. The  sellers and customers are dressed in a variety of outfits and sell a wide variety of goods. Baby is such a lovable character, coquettish and sweet!

The read aloud qualities are many. The book would make a terrific story time book, suited to many themes. The lyrical verbal text is entertaining to read aloud. The bright colours and the large, open plan pages are perfect for an audience. For crafty storytellers, make a felt board story for further engagement. There is a strong counting element, making it perfect for numeracy activities in the preschool or prep classroom.

handa's surpriseBaby Goes to Market is a brilliant companion for the iconic Handa’s Surprise. Published by Walker Books (1997), it is also set in Africa. Handa takes some delicious fruit in her basket to her friend, but on the way various animals help themselves. However, Handa arrives with some fruit, a surprise for both of them! An animation of Handa’s Surprise can be found here.

I cannot recommend Baby Goes to Market enough, for mamas and babies everywhere, story time sessions in public libraries and early years classrooms. Multiple copies will be required in libraries as this will be hugely popular.

Suggested activities

  • How is Mama and Baby’s market different to how your parents do the shopping? List the features of shopping in Baby Goes to Market and list features of the students’ shopping, or shopping in your local area. Introduce your young audience to a Venn diagram, showing similarities and differences.
  • Introduce subtraction to young learners. List everything Baby is given and the number. Display in pictorial form, with the initial number Baby is given and the remaining amount that goes in the basket.
  • The end papers are a repeat of the print on Mama’s skirt. Have the children study the printing on the clothes in the book and choose their favourite. Using sponges or various shaped items found at home or in the classroom, repeat the pattern using paint.