Book review: His Royal Highness, King Baby

HRHKBHi everyone!

So I get contacted a good bit by people offering to send me books in exchange for honest reviews. Being a bit busy these days with a baby fresh out of the cooker (not quite two months old!) and two other kiddos running around shouting “Hello, Buzzy Bee!” over and over with bins on their heads, I tend to turn these free books down.

But when I got the opportunity to review “His Royal Highness, King Baby: a Terrible, True Story,” a new book by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by David Roberts, I jumped at it because, well, we have a new baby in the house. The blurb was endearing–about an older sister learning how to deal with the new king in town, King Baby. Perfect! I thought. Our oldest, Alice (4 almost 5) has done really well with our now-middle child Ben, but who knows–maybe there will be some emotions with the new baby that this book will put into words for her, or help us all laugh about a little.

The book arrived just yesterday, and I read it right away, to myself and then to Alice. Here is my honest-to-goodness opinion.

The illustrations are lovely. Seriously, I love them so, so much!! The stylized drawings of the family home done in 70s decor (hope I got that right) had such a sense of place–and a sense of fun. This is the kind of book I’d buy just for the pictures. They have all the detail that makes you look twice (from the kitchen tile to the indented faucets) and then want to go back and look again as soon as you’ve closed the book.

The idea behind the story is also lovely–an older sister telling an exaggerated account of her trials and tribulations upon the arrival of a baby brother–King Baby.

However, when I read the book to Alice, I think it was a little lost on her. There’s a level that I think is just amusing to adults or maybe older kid readers–which is fine (by all means amuse me!)–but too much of the book relied on that kind of sarcastic saying-the-opposite-of-what-you-mean. The dramatic narrator, in her fury at the tyranny of the new ruler, says things like, “BEHOLD Majesty boy!” Let’s just say my sweet 4-year-old didn’t get it.

Also, the girl in the book does a good bit of, well, (indirect) name-calling in her descriptions of her brother–like “his One-and-Only Spoiledness, King Baby,” “His Really Rather Greediness” and the like. On one hand this could be amusing for an older reader, but on the other hand I found myself not wanting to read those parts to Alice and give her the idea that calling your baby brother names is in any way okay. And I really don’t want to encourage her to observe the behavior of her brothers and start assigning them labels of ‘greedy’ or ‘spoiled.’

To any non-parents out there, I realize I may be sounding very extreme, like my sense of humor went for a walk in the graveyard and died on the way. And after all, the book could be helping kids express emotions they couldn’t otherwise verbalize.

So yeah, there’s that. It just wasn’t for me.

So in conclusion, double thumbs up to the illustrations, and an ultimately sweet story as long as you’re okay with the brand of humor.

Five instant mood-lifters

So I’m all for pursuing meaning in life, finding peace inside and all that good stuff. Very, very important.

But sometimes, stuff can help.

The right food, the right smell, a long hot shower, that perfectly soft afghan that you pretty much want to attach to yourself for the rest of the day. The mug that fits the curve of your hand exactly, the candle that makes everything smell like you’re living inside a pine tree.

Cue song: I AM A MATERIAL GIRL

Yes Madonna, I am.

So here are five things that really help pick my spirits up. (And the links will take you to amazon, in case you’re wanting to embark on a buying frenzy).

1. doTERRA’s Slim and Sassy Metabolic Blend. Basically, it’s this tiny capsule of essential oils. You add a drop or two to your water (and I always add plenty of ice) and drink. It’s pepperminty and fresh and it instantly takes me back to Hawaii where my sister Heidi first introduced me to it, we drank tall glasses of the stuff, killed flies by the dozens and ate Asiago bagels every day for breakfast.

I have no idea if it does anything for my metabolism. But it makes me feel fresh and happy and like the warm Hawaii breezes are about to float through the window instead of the gusty cold-spring Chicago breezes I’m getting get instead.

Nothing against you, Chicago, it’s just that, well, Hawaii.

2. Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series. Take cozy mysteries and up the level of literary while keeping the coziness and the descriptions of good food. Add a few smatterings of French (it takes place in Quebec), lots of snow, a detective with the comforting self-assurance and experience of Agatha Christie’s Poirot (but less cocky), and there you have the Gamache series.

Disclaimer: you will want to eat runny Brie and baguettes while reading, after reading, and will then develop a Pavlovian effect by which you start salivating before reading too.

Also, the first book is good–but they get better. Exponentially. Oh, do they get better (and excuse me while I have some mid-series angst–INSPECTOR BEAUVOIR WHAT ARE YOU DOING???)

My current favorite way to relax at night: PJ’s, body pillow, Gamache and . . .

3. Lavender essential oil. I practically drench my wrists in it and fall asleep with this smell in my nostrils. Relaxation heaven. And I don’t care if it is placebo. Placebo isn’t less real just because the effects happen via psychological whatsammadunnits.

I think I bought mine at Target and I have no idea what brand it is, but something like this would probably do:

It doesn’t have to be expensive either–I think that one up there is around $6.

I look forward to smelling this every single night. I recently started putting it on in the mornings too. There’s no telling how this will end. Probably with me drenched head-to-toe and so incredibly relaxed that I’m playing the border between Zen and catatonic.

4. A hot rice bag. My amazing friend Sarah (actually two different Sarah’s!) have made me rice bags. I use them both. Basically, it’s a fabric sleeve of whatever size you choose full of rice and sewn shut (you can sprinkle in some of that lavender essential oil if you feel like it for a double-whammy). You heat it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, then drape it around whatever part of yourself is feeling achy, cramped, or in need of coziness.

Here’s one:

But really, you don’t have to spend money on this endeavor–you can just make your own. With an old tube sock, if you want (and tie the top closed if you’re not into sewing). Or you can call up someone named Sarah and demand that they fulfill their rice bag duty to you.

5. Peppermint oil. Okay, so I’m obviously on an essential oils kick here. But seriously. While the effects of the full-spectrum light I recently purchased have yet to be confirmed, the effects of these oils, to me, are immediately felt on an emotional level.

My sister Erica bought me a miniature capsule of Peppermint oil back when I was pregnant with Ben, to help combat nausea. I only used it maybe … twice? But with this pregnancy, I’m using it morning and night. Basically, I shake a drop or two on my back of my tongue and there’s a burn of freshness that spreads into my mouth and makes me feel like I’m younger, prettier, awake, and invigorated. Like I brushed my teeth about ten times in a row and am that much more ready to take on the world.

It’s supposed to calm the stomach too, if your digestion if iffy.

The above bottle is (currently) under $10. My mini-bottle has no brand on it, but when it runs out, I’ll probably order this one–or one of the million other options. (Does it blow anyone else’s mind just how many product choices there are out there? Yowza. I feel like it leads me to the extremes of being 1) paralyzed by indecision or 2) recklessly clicking and purchasing because there is TOO MUCH TO CONSIDER and I really just want to be done.)

Anyway, those are five things I’m using on a regular basis right now. And I love them all.

Anything I should add to my list?