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*Baby Brains Superstar* by Simon James


Baby Brains Superstar
by Simon James
Ages 4-8 32 pages Candlewick September 2005 Hardcover    

Was it the classical music his mother played to her belly with headphones? Was it the rock 'n' roll his dad cranked on the stereo? Was he just born with it?

Baby Brains isn't just smart; he's a musical genius. Playing piano in his footie pajamas, singing with perfect pitch, quickly masters the tuba, cello, and timpanis at music school, but the electric guitar wins his heart. On his way home from graduation (after just two weeks), Baby Brains says from his pram, "Rock 'n' roll is where it's at, Mom."

After wowing the audience at a local talent contest, Baby Brains gets a call to be the opening act at "the biggest outdoor music concert of all time." From then on, it's pampered rock star all the way. He's measured for a special stage costume (think purple fringed Jimi Hendrix or Robert Plant-style bodysuit), has his one and only hair done by a famous NYC stylist, gets comp tickets for his parents, and is whisked to the stadium venue (at 9:00, mind, probably way past bedtime) via helicopter.

But once he hits the stage and gets a really good look at the crowd, his stagefright-induced cry "I want my mommy!" is taken for his new song. The crowd goes even wilder when Mrs. Brains scrambles onstage to scoop him up in her arms. "I Want My Mommy" becomes a huge hit, but Baby Brains decides to retire from the music scene to stay at home and listen to classical music - though he reserves Fridays for teaching rock 'n' roll at the music school.

With a jiggly-edged ink and watercolor illustration style reminiscent of Quentin Blake, Simon James paints a quirky but cute tale that's the perfect casual complement to his slyly satirical text. That's not to say that Baby Brains Superstar is all wry and clever; buried not so deep is the truth that sometimes the best thing is home and family and the quiet times - although a little occasional busting out ain't all bad.

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