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Shirley’s Wonderful Baby

By Valiska Gregory

Illustrated by Bruce Degen

The Story

In Shirley's Wonderful Baby, a cast of lovable hippo characters—a tap-dancing, reluctant older sister; a turkey-legged, prune-faced baby brother; and an unconventional baby-sitter in high-top tennis shoes—turns the tables on the traditional story of sibling rivalry.

Everything Shirley's new baby brother, Stanley, does is wonderful—to everyone except Shirley. Only Ms. Mump, the baby-sitter, agrees that babies aren't that interesting, especially with their wet diapers, burping, and constant need for attention. But then Shirley discovers that being Stanley's big sister is what's most wonderful of all.

Valiska and Bruce Degen autographing at the Inter-national Reading Association Conference in Atlanta. 

Bruce Degen is the author/illustrator of Jamberry and also illustrated the popular Jesse Bear and Magic School Bus series.

The Story Behind the Story

Sometimes a phrase or sentence I overhear sticks in my head like a barnacle.  The phrase that began Shirley’s Wonderful Baby came from a new grandmother who would answer the question "So how's your grandson?" with the same words.  She would invariably light up like a Madonna with a halo on a Christmas card and say, "He's wonderful!"  The phrase "He's Wonderful!" rattled around in my head for months, and I wondered if a baby’s older sibling might have a slightly different view of a new baby than his doting parents or grandparents.  One day, the book Shirley tap danced on to my computer screen, and the story seemed to write itself.