Picture Book Analysis: Sweet Baby Feet by Margaret O Hair

Sweet Baby Feet by Margaret O Hair
For my next analysis, I decided to do a 180 from the previous book, NUGGET AND FANG. Instead of humor for a more sophisticated child, I wanted to highlight a book for little ones. And when you're writing for children ages baby-3, you need to do the unthinkable: RHYME!

Yes! Editors want you to rhyme for this age group. In fact, many of my published friends sell rhyming text even though editors (as well as agents) say they don't want this type of book. One friend even was asked to change her prose INTO rhyme. Wow.

Before I go into the analysis of SWEET BABY FEET by Margaret O Hair, I want you to take a look at that baby on the cover. Can we just say a collective AWWWW!!! SO CUTE!!! I normally won't highlight the illustrator in these kinds of posts, but Tracy Dockray draws the most precious babies on the planet. :-)

Now the real reason editors go out to conferences and tell you they absolutely don't want to receive a rhyming text is that like singing for American Idol, most people don't do it well. And you need to have the talent to rhyme or forget it. Margaret O Hair is by far the most talented rhymer I've ever read. She's actually a rhyming genius. If you give her a theme or topic, she can come up with a funny rhyme that works in an instant. She does this at parties. Everyone loves her! And at the very least, if you're interested in rhyme, you should pick up one of her books and study how flawless her rhyme scheme is.

SPOILER ALERT! My picture book analyses will reveal the climax/ending to every story. So be forewarned!

Genre: Baby board transitional, Concept, Rhyming text

Synopsis: Follow the footsteps of baby as he scampers from morning until nap time with his busy little feet.

Plot elements: A Cycle of the Day story.

  • Morning time--wake up
  • morning activities: getting dressed, feeding time, walking/toddling around
  • game time--hide and seek, watching tv, playing with pets, finger paints
  • taking a bath
  • Climax--baby races mama, tiring her out
  • Twist Ending--naptime (for Mama, not baby) Twist 

Most books in this genre are cycle of the day stories or journey stories where the text takes you on a journey from one place to another. There is still much going on, although the climax isn't as apparent. In this story, the climax is just a heightened activity that will set up the twist ending. And as in most fiction picture books, there needs to be a twist at the end or a surprise. In this story, Mama is so tired from chasing baby all day long, she's ready for a nap, but not baby.

Now what made this very simple story a keeper in the eyes of the editors? The writing! Are you amazed? LOL! But it is more than that. Margaret looked at the market and found that there weren't any books celebrating baby's feet. FEET! Not only are baby's feet cute, but it's an original concept. It also lends itself to a sequel about maybe baby's hands, too! Hmm...I wonder if we'll be seeing that book in the future?

Style Elements:

  • Perfect meter and unforced rhyme scheme--"Morning time!/Feet are bare./Stretch them,/ wave them/Through the air.   This meter and scheme is the same throughout. It's what we call an ABCCB scheme and the meter is catchy and upbeat. You can almost hear the pitter patter of the feet with the rhythm of the text.
  • Funny or active pictures--Margaret thought about each picture and how it might delight babies and parents. For example: baby is throwing food, toddling with his dog, crying, hugging mama, etc.
  • Use of active verbs and adjectives throughout--for example, baby is tumbling, on tippy toes, peeking, playing, waddling. Baby's feet are chubby, cuddly, bouncy, etc.
  • Use of metaphor and surprise--for example, baby's shoes are the ones playing hide and seek
  • A sense of rhythm: you bounce along with the baby. Ex: Love this song!/Feel the beat./Tap those chubby/baby feet!
If you take a look at the book and focus on each stanza, you will find a lively text that is adorable in execution that's really hard to do. 

I hope this helps you understand a different genre that you might not know is out there. It's a growing market.    Of course this is just one example of the board book market. I hope to show you many different examples because I've heard this market is needed out there.

If you like these posts, feel free to click the like button below or tweet it to your friends. I hope to post one analysis per week. I will also be doing what I will entitle, Picture Book University, where I will go over different aspects of picture books and really hone in on how to practice these elements and offer book examples for you to look at--a sort of mini-workshop. If you read all the posts, it should be like taking a picture book class. Only for free! 

Happy writing!


Mirka Breen said...

Fully agree about rhyming, which I don't do, because I don't do it well. Most first-time-author PBs I've spotted at the store were in rhyme. Go for it, good rhymers!

Tina Cho said...

Lovely post, Pam! This is a beautiful book, and I used to be crazy about my children's baby feet, so cute! I'll have to look for Margaret's books.

Leandra Wallace said...

I love the title- I just want to repeat it over and over, lol! And then go chew on my little one's toes...

Margaret O'Hair said...


You are so so sweet to post this review of my book, and thank you for your kind words.

:) I heart you. <3


Unknown said...

Hey, and a big thanks from Baby Feet's illustrator too!
You made my afternoon.

Right now I'm working on making an octopus as winsome and cuddly as those babies. A challenge but a fun one too.

Thanks again for looking at those "Sweet Baby Feet".

Tracy Dockray said...

And a BIG THANKS from Sweet Baby's illustrator too!
You made my afternoon.

Right now my latest project is trying to make an octopus as winsome and cuddly as those babies. A challenge indeed.

Thanks again for looking at ""Sweet Baby Feet".