First Laugh Welcome, Baby!

First Laugh Welcome, Baby! Written by Rose Ann Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood, Illustrated by Jonathan Nelson, Charlesbridge 2018
03/11/2019 Review

Nancy Bo Flood and Rose Ann Tahe collaborated on this wonderful manuscript. Unfortunately, Rose didn’t live to see it published. But her beautiful words live on.

A description from the publisher: “The First Laugh Ceremony is a celebration held to welcome a new member of the community. As everyone–from Baby’s nima (mom) to nadi (big sister) to cheii (grandfather)–tries to elicit the joyous sound from Baby, readers are introduced to details about Navajo life and the Navajo names for family members. Back matter includes information about other cultural ceremonies that welcome new babies and children, including man yue celebration (China), sanskaras (Hindu) and aquiqa (Muslim).”

That description really tells you everything you need to know about the book’s contents. But the feeling of the book is what really pulled at my heartstrings. I really love this sweet story about a close knit Navajo family and their joyful wait for baby’s first laugh. The anticipation grows throughout the book as each family member tries to make baby laugh and we learn about Navajo life along the way – through the text and the beautiful illustrations.

Finally, baby laughs for the grandparents, with mom, dad, and siblings gathered to celebrate the special moment. And what a sweet moment it is. (I mean, what is sweeter than the sound of a baby’s laughter, really?) The next spread shows the whole family gathered for The First Laugh Celebration – “We welcome you, Navajo baby, into your family. Into our clans.” The back matter tells us more about the heartwarming custom of The First Laugh Celebration.

I love that this book teaches my children about a different culture and custom in such a loving, respectful, and relatable way.

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