so i’ll admit it. i can be a little skeptical of celebrity writers. i often wonder whether celebrity authors are being published because of the selling power their name adds to the book’s cover or because of the book’s literary merit. but, to be honest, i was pleasantly surprised with jimmy fallon’s (2015) your baby’s first word will be dada.
a board book, your baby’s first word will be dada has wide audience appeal, which is one defining mark of a good book. whereas children who are learning animal sounds can learn from the dada-animal sounds reader response aspect, parents who have tried to make sure their kid’s first word is a specific first word (or parents who have spent tireless hours trying to get their child to say any word at all!) will enjoy fallon’s humor. this book is as much for the baby as it is for mommy and dada. how to compose a story that has wide audience appeal is a worthy topic for writing groups of all ages.
so this review is SO much longer than the book itself, which is just deeply ironic. but in all seriousness, the book’s brevity (there’s one word per page) helps move the book forward and advance the book’s tension. the repetition of dada only helps to emphasize frustration. how a book’s audience and message correlate with word count might be an important discussion topic for writers. for instance, what is the difference between a one-word-a-page book and a poetry or prose book? what are the advantages and disadvantages of particular word counts?
one question i asked myself after i finished your baby’s first word will be dada was does fallon tell a story in the traditional sense of telling a story? he sets up a reader response component, introduces different characters, and includes a climax (albeit on the last page of the book). from a composition standpoint, fallon’s board book asks us to consider what a story needs (or does not need).
ultimately, i think fallon’s book can make writers think about what can be done in a board book and the complexities that can exist in a text with few words and a minimalist story line. i’d love to hear what your first word or your child’s first word was and what you think of your baby’s first word will be dada!