The Menino: An Illustrated Love Letter to the Mysterious and Mystifying Creature That Is a New Baby
By Maria Popova
As the recent honorary aunt of an exceptional small human, I was thrilled to come upon The Menino: A Story Based on Real Events (public library) by Argentine singer, author, and illustrator Marisol Misenta, better known as Isol — a delightful developmental odyssey seen from the parallel perspectives of the strange new creature and his joyfully disoriented parents.
From breastfeeding to the complexities of crying to theory of mind, this tender and truthful tale chronicles what happens once a new baby lodges itself between the parents’ former lives as competent grownups who know what they’re doing and this thrilling yet terrifying next chapter aswirl with learning curves. The poetic, the philosophical, and the practical converge into a love letter to the unfolding of new life, so mysterious and mystifying to the surrounding adults who, after all, were once babies themselves.
The Menino arrives
and has to eat often.
He activates a pump
that he has in his mouth
and uses it to sip
He prefers the milk
that is prepared by the woman of the house.
One ordinary day when they are playing with him, telling him stories or talking in high squeaky voices, The Menino discovers something surprising… that big people were once Meninos themselves.
Then The Menino feels at home… and decides to live here.
The Menino, translated into English by Elisa Amado, comes from independent Canadian picture-book powerhouse Groundwood Books, makers of such treasures as a Sidewalk Flowers, Bright Sky, Starry City, and Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress. Complement it with Sophie Blackall’s wonderful primer on where babies come from, then revisit children’s simple, enormously profound questions about how life works.
Illustrations © Isol courtesy of Groundwood Books
Published December 9, 2015