Bianca with Bob Shea on I Am a Baby

An interview with author-illustrator Bob Shea
The Children’s Book Review

In this episode, I talk with your favorite author and illustrator, Bob Shea. We talk about many things, including the importance of reading for fun and his latest funny picture book, I Am a Baby.

Bob Shea is the author, illustrator, or author-illustrator of many well-loved picture books and chapter books, including the Ballet Cat and Dinosaur vs. series as well as Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great; Unicorn Is Maybe Not So Great After All; Crash, Splash, Moo!; and Who Wet My Pants?, which was illustrated by Zacharia OHora. Bob Shea’s characters and animations have appeared on Nick Jr., Playhouse Disney, and PBS KIDS. He lives in Connecticut.

Listen to the Interview

For the latest episodes from The Growing Readers Podcast, Follow Now on your favorite podcast platform.

Read the Interview

I am a Baby by Bob Shea: Book Cover

Bianca Schulze: Well, hello, Bob. Welcome to The Growing Reader’s Podcast. Thanks so much for joining me today to talk about your newest picture book, I Am a Baby. This might be one of the most relatable new baby books I’ve ever read. So, thanks for coming on.

Bob Shea: Thank you for having me.

Bianca Schulze: So, I noticed that you dedicated this book to your wife and your son. So, is this book ultimately inspired by your personal experiences with parenthood? Maybe?

Bob Shea: Yes, we have one son. And it definitely was a reflection of the roller coaster jet plane that we were on at the time, that no one can, no matter what anyone says, no one can fully explain to you what’s about to happen in your life. And that’s exactly where all the inspiration came from.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah, that’s so true. I’m a mom of three kids. And so, and every time was a different experience, but also wholly exhausting. So, I’m curious, how does your family, particularly your son, feel about this book?

Bob Shea: You know, that’s funny because a lot of times he doesn’t see my books because he’s 18 now. So, it’s like he’s gone; you see him when he sleeps, then he leaves, and he’s out with his friends. But he saw this one on the kitchen table and picked it up, and he thought it was really funny. He really got a kick out of it. So, it was quite an endorsement from a sullen teenager.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah, I love it. I love it. All right. Well, starting with the end papers that show all the fun things the starring couple did together in their pre-baby days. I found the illustrations to be really funny, and I think I have experienced every scene you shared in that book. So, do you want to talk us through some of the funny moments?

Bob Shea: Right.

So, the way it works out in the front endpapers, it plays out the courtship process. So, you have a music festival. It’s people taking selfies—it’s the mom from the book doing selfies at the music festival in her sort of bohemian clothes and, you know, at a barbecue, all these fun things. And then she starts dating and then they’re doing all kinds of fun stuff. A bicycle built for two. They’re making a snowman. And it’s all the things that couples do when they don’t have a care in the world.

And then the back endpapers are—it’s just shot after shot of the baby because that’s what happens after the baby comes. This is what that represents. And all the parent heads are cut out. It’s just the baby.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah, and that’s true. That’s exactly how it goes.

Bob Shea: Oh, my gosh. Just every second was documented when my son was a baby. And it was before social media—18 years ago. Facebook was just coming on the scene. And so, it wasn’t even for that. When he was asleep, we would scroll through pictures of him.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah. Oh, my gosh.

Well, tell us about all the stuff between those glorious endpapers.

Bob Shea: So, you know, because I remember one time when my son was born, we were living in Manhattan at the time. It was my wife and I. So, we had a small apartment—a little one-bedroom apartment. And I remember my wife, my sister-in-law, graciously threw a baby shower for my wife. I remember walking into the apartment and the whole apartment was just overwhelmed with baby things. And I was like, there’s no way there can be this much equipment for a baby, you know like cavemen didn’t have this. You know what I mean? And their babies were okay.

But it opens up with just a pile of all the equipment you need for a little baby. Everything’s reasonable, like a changing table. And I was a big fan of the diaper genie at the time. I don’t even know if that’s still a thing.

Bianca Schulze: Oh, my gosh. I was a big fan of the diaper genie, too.

Bob Shea: I didn’t know that was still a thing. I was like, this seems pretty handy, but it’s the weirdest thing in the world. I’m sure they’re going to get rid of it. Yeah, but it was great.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah. I feel like they have updated those, but.

Bob Shea: Oh, they have?

Bianca Schulze: I think so. I don’t know. My youngest is seven now, but I feel like when he was born, there was like a new wave of diaper pails.

Bob Shea: Right? And, and the technology’s amazing. So, then it’s basically these new parents spending life with the baby. And basically, the baby is just awake and happy all the time. And the parents, all they want to do is sleep. And then the baby, we used to call it making an H, the baby gets in bed with you and always ends up sideways so that you’re a big letter H.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah.

Bob Shea: I could sleep through pretty much anything, but my wife would have just supersonic hearing for whatever was going on with my son, Ryan. So, she really never got any sleep.

Bianca Schulze: Okay, wait. I just have to interrupt. So, I’ve always been curious about this. I just thought that maybe, like, dads pretended they didn’t hear anything. So, you’re saying that you really don’t hear anything?

Bob Shea: We really don’t hear anything. And I’m going to tell you something else. In dads’ defenses, when he got a little older, like when he was a toddler, he would wake up. My wife was so tired all the time from hanging out with him all day. And I would tell him, you can get in bed with us, but you have to come on my side. And he would climb in. He would climb in on my side. So, he wasn’t in the middle of us kicking us. He would just kick me.

Bianca Schulze: There you go.

Bob Shea: I can sleep on a picket fence. But I knew I wanted to let my wife get a little sleep, too.

Bianca Schulze: There you go.

Bob Shea: It’s not my fault.

Bianca Schulze: All right. Okay. Okay. Keep going. All right, so we have the letter H.

Bob Shea: So, I have the letter H. Yeah. Then we have—it’s a lot of the classic baby things. So, the dad is trying to put together the IKEA crib, right? And all the things, all the emotions basically come back to because I am a baby. So, it’s:

Daddy is grumbling. Daddy is grumbling because I am a baby.

The cat is hiding. The cat is hiding because I am a baby.

And a little baby is just chasing the cat around the house and has him cornered underneath the sofa just to pet him. He’s not going to be mean. And dropping food all over the floor and emptying the laundry basket. I remember how he used to do that all the time. I don’t even know why you fold clothes, then sticky tables. Everything was sticky. I would do my school visits with an iPad, and I was like, why is there—first of all, why is the battery dead? Why is there a layer of goo on this all the time? Everything was sticky in the house. Yeah. It was impossible to do anything.

Dad’s changing the diaper, you know, that was always a good one. Oh, and there’s always. There’s a minefield of toys on the floor. Yep. And Mom’s drinking wine in the afternoon. That was the other thing. Although my wife didn’t really do that, I’m sure she wanted to. We waited till he went to sleep. Is he asleep? Oh, my gosh. Just tiptoe downstairs.

Bianca Schulze: Yep. So, we go through all the different scenes. So, these moments are relatable to anybody who has been a parent. And so, I’m curious, out of all the scenes, is there one that’s your favorite or that has the most meaning to you?

Bob Shea: I think that—and this sounds a little sappy because most of them are how exhausted the parents are. And you are taken out of the flow of time. You’re exhausted and confused. And you never know what day it is or what’s going on. My wife and I both worked at home and worked for ourselves. So, it wasn’t even like I got a parenting bonus of going to an office, like, all right, I get to escape—I have to leave. I have an excuse to leave. So, we were both exhausted all the time.

But I think the best moment for me is when they’re reading books and he falls asleep. Because I think at the end of the day, after all the stuff, taking him to the park and doing all the things and it’s all fun, but it is so, so tiring. And just when you finally get those 10 minutes to sit quietly with your little baby and enjoy the baby and everything, settle down for the day, and they’re getting ready for bed. I think that was always my favorite time. And that’s my favorite moment in the book. Because the parents are both reading to him, reading one of my books to them.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah. I mean, I feel like that was just a nice, calming way to end and to show that even though it is so exhausting, there’s so much love and joy that comes from bringing a baby into the world and the way it all just kind of came full circle at the end. And with those endpapers of just all the pictures of the baby. I mean, it really was. I related to that moment. I still read every night now, just with my seven-year-old and my oldest two reading by themselves. And it’s just such a loving ritual to read every single night. So, I loved that ending.

Bob Shea: Yeah. It’s a nice time. You know, whenever you find out that someone’s going to have a baby, everyone tells them how difficult it’s going to be. And that’s very true. Like how tired you are going to be? And it’s a lot of work. All those things are true, but no one can tell you how much you’re going to love this person like it’s you can’t express it like you don’t know until it happens. And it’s such a nice time. Like all the tripping on toys, dropping things, being frustrated, and putting the thing together. It was a nice time in our lives. My wife and I look back at that­–it was a great time for our family.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah, well, your artwork is so vibrant and entertaining, and I do have to say that I really love the little sleepy eye bag lines that you gave the parents because I know mine have never gone away. So, I know that they’re my badge of honor for making my way through babyhood three times.

Bob Shea: I give you a lot of credit.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah, I loved the little eye bags. Those were great.

But the art notes at the beginning of the book say that the illustrations were done using red and blue pencils on inexpensive printer paper and then finished on a fancy tablet while sitting in a comfortable chair by a large window. So, tell me more about your experience creating the art. What does that look like?

Bob Shea: All those things are true.

So, I work when I do my initial sketches for anything; I draw on copier paper like that. I bind myself into notebooks. I have them there all over my studio, and I draw on that. Because I used to be like, I am a professional illustrator, and I’m going to get a nice sketchbook and be all fancy. And I would never want to draw in them because they’re so precious. You’re like, well, this drawing I have in my head is no good. I better not waste the sketchbook on that. So, I would just get cheap copier paper and bind them together. So, any thought I had, I could just dash it down and get it out of my head as fast as I could.

But I found these red and blue pencils. One side is red, and one side is blue. And it’s for correction. It’s for making copy edits. But they draw really nicely, and the lead is really soft. So, I work out everything that way. And then I have an iPad that I do the finishes on, and I sit in a chair. And it’s nice you can take it wherever. I drew one book once down in the park by the Long Island Sound—I would take my bicycle down there—and you can just draw on it. And it’s actually a very nice experience.

Bianca Schulze: It does sound like a great experience. So, tell me a little bit more about using the iPad. Is there specific software that you like to use, or what’s your go-to?

Bob Shea: So, I use a program called Procreate, which is pretty popular with illustrators right now. And the thing with Procreate is it really mimics natural media. When you use a new program, you often end up drawing or creating artwork that looks like it came from that program. The nice thing about Procreate is our style is still your style. So, it’s just the convenience of having the things available to you and whatever you put into it is what comes out the other side. It doesn’t look anything like, oh, obviously you made this in another program. I don’t want to trash any other programs but Procreate is the one that I use.

I also heard that there’s a new one from Adobe Fresco—I’m going to look into that. But Procreate has been fantastic. My whole studio is just an iPad Pro, basically now.

Bianca Schulze: That’s incredible. It surprised me through COVID; many illustrators who maybe typically use different mediums said that they tried Procreate and were blown away by how it all turned out. So, I am not an artist in any way. So, I love learning all about it.

Bob Shea: One of the things that COVID did for me is I did more traditional media, not even for the books, but I just was like, I’m going to get back into drawing and making artwork and doing block prints and doing a lot of the things that I love doing. But in the before times never really had the opportunity to pursue it. So, where a lot of people were making sourdough bread, I was making prints and drawing with actual-colored pencils.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah, that’s neat. It was like a time to explore something new, something different, or revisit something you hadn’t done for a while.

Bob Shea: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I do a thing on Friday afternoons where I will draw with another illustrator on Instagram live. So, I emailed all these people—I’ve never met a lot of them—and we just sit and draw with the camera’s face down on the drawings, and it’s a nice afternoon. It almost feels like back when we’d be able to get together and see people and go out to conferences and things; it’s really nice.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah, well, since you’re both the author and the illustrator for this title, did the art come first for this book or the text?

Bob Shea: Oh, the text came first. It’s funny, even though originally it was a family of seals.

Bianca Schulze: Oh, that’s funny.

Bob Shea: So, the baby was a baby seal.

Bianca Schulze: I’m literally trying to visualize this right now.

Bob Shea: Yeah. Yeah. And so, I wrote the text, which wasn’t the same. It was a little bit different. And my editor was wonderful about it. And she was like, I like this idea. She’s like, I really would like it to be people—which I’ve never drawn people before. I was like, okay, I only draw animals because you can get away with a lot more. Like it’s just a round shape, this seal is just a blob. You don’t have to really make it correct. But people are like, oh, people are going to know. People are going to know. I can’t draw it. So, she read the manuscript and she’s like, there’s something here. I like it, but we need to work on it.

And then that’s when I came up with the repeating pattern because I am a baby. And when we hit, when we had those two things in place, that’s where the book really came together. So, it’s nice, I think. And the thing is, kids, even older kids, they like babies. Yeah. So, they like to look at babies and are very interested in what babies are doing because they have mastery over so few things when you’re like a toddler or kindergarten. So that when you see a little baby, you’re like, Yeah, that’s cool. That’s a person who doesn’t know as much as I do. And they’re cute.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah, exactly. Well. So, you seem to have this innate skill of really being able to tap into the true essence of childhood in all your books. So why do you think this is a skill you have and what motivates you to write such stories?

Bob Shea: That’s nice of you to say that.

I think before anything else; I like writing stories. I love each part of it for different reasons. I love illustration because I can explore different techniques and I like modern design and that’s all great. But I think that it’s really sort of a human experience thing.

It’s nice to pay attention to the world and remember what it was like as a kid. I don’t mean it from an inner child kind of way. I mean it like being a kid is difficult. Like it’s hard. Like, it’s not like, oh, it’s all fun and everything. Like, your tools aren’t developed to deal with the world. But still, the things you deal with are a lot of the same things, social interactions and things that grownups deal with.

So, I like to think about things from a kid’s point of view and, for me personally, try to find what’s funny about it and what’s uniquely funny about it, and then try to spin that into a way where it’s more of a story and more of a—how do I say this? Like they’re not morality tales, but just to sort of be like everything’s going to be okay. Yeah, like it’s going to be okay. These bad things happen. Not that all my books are about bad things, but these things happen. And it’s going to be all right.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah. Yeah. I love it. I think what you said about kids developing and not having the tools to cope with some of the crazy things that happen in the world. But yet, we often expect them to behave in a way as though they have the tools. And I feel like your book’s really kind of just comforting to kids. It’s funny, you know, you can really see the way you describe that. I see that coming through in your book. So that makes sense to me.

Do you ever have days when you’re on a deadline and the creative juices aren’t flowing?

Bob Shea: All the time? So, the thing is, fortunately, when there is a deadline, it usually means that it’s in production. Like all the creative parts of the book are done and you are doing final illustrations. But there’s a lot of days where I think I’m done. I’m never going to think of another idea again. I have to go get a job and I have no skills. And then I sit and I’m like, what can I do? I’m like, I’m getting too old to work for UPS. I can’t stay on my feet that long and lift heavy things anymore. Like all my go-to jobs are gone.

Another thing about doing this job, it was difficult for me to wrap my head around what work looks like because I keep a regular schedule. I come in in the morning and leave at the end of the day every day. It’s a regular schedule but going for a long walk is work.

I’m not complaining about it. I’m saying that’s when I’m generating ideas because my brain, when it doesn’t want to give you an idea, it won’t. You can’t sit in front of the paper and say, okay, children’s book, go. You have to trick it. You have to go; you know what? I’m going to walk over to where the pond is and look at those turtles since you’re obviously not into this brain. And then you walk over there, and when you’re walking over, your brain will say, hey, you know, I was thinking about that book idea you wanted me to come up with. I think I have something ready to go. No, no. We’re looking at turtles now and then when it knows it’s not getting the attention, it gives you all the ideas you want.

Bianca Schulze: Oh, that’s genius. I love that everybody says go for a walk. Right? But I like that it’s focusing and looking at the turtles and then your brain will give it to you. Yes. I love that.

Bob Shea: I think for me, changing environments helps. Like a lot of times, I can walk to my library, and I’ll go, and I’ll sit in the library and work because the change of scenery makes your brain get excited and be like, oh, look at this new stuff. Let’s think of new things. And the walk is really good because you’re active, you’re doing something and you have to focus on not falling left, right, left, you know, so your brain can sort of go in the background and work that way.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah.

Okay. Well, I have an anonymous write-in question that you may need to brace yourself for. Are you ready?

Bob Shea: Okay, go ahead.

Bianca Schulze: I will say that the anonymous writer has the initials BS, and they ask: It must be a heavy burden being America’s favorite author with all the accolades and well wishes wishing you well. Is it exhausting to write your fantastic books and give so much back to your legions of fans?

Bob Shea: Oh my gosh, I’m just so glad somebody finally recognized all I do for this community.

Bianca Schulze: I love it.

Bob Shea: It’s exhausting.

Bianca Schulze: It’s funny, though, as the initials BS, both you and I have the same initials B. S. So now I’m like, wondering who actually wrote this question?

Bob Shea: Those initials have come in handy for me over the years.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah, they are convenient.

All right. Well, Bob, to be a writer, a lot of people say that you need to be a reader first. Was there a pivotal moment in which you considered yourself a reader?

Bob Shea: I think more in retrospect, I realized that was the case.

I think when I was growing up, being an author and even there was no emphasis on reading. And there was no emphasis on, oh, you can be an author. It just was when I grew up, I would go read all the time. I was reading Encyclopedia Brown and there was a series called The Great Brain. Other kids weren’t doing that. Now I go into schools and all the kids read and all the kids know all the different books. And they’re excited for them to come out. It wasn’t that way in my school when I grew up. I think now I realize that I was a reader from Geez, I must have been like ten years old.

Bianca Schulze: I love that. I love the Encyclopedia Brown books. The Big Brain?

Bob Shea: Oh, The Great Brain. It sounds so funny to me, but I can’t think—what was it about?

Bianca Schulze: Was it like a mystery?

Bob Shea: No, it wasn’t a mystery. It was about a little boy who was supposed to be very smart. And I think it was–You’re putting me on the spot now. I can’t remember. I think it was no—I think it was like the 1800s. And I think he would come up with clever things to do. They were never malicious. Like he wasn’t a bad kid. It would always be like how to make money, put on a show, and do all this stuff. But he was much more clever than the parent than the adults were in the world.

And then Encyclopedia Brown, they were short. I’m not going to lie. I’d get them and one book would have like four or five stories. I’d be like, I can get through these no problem.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah, I mean, I love that. Chapter book series are great. I love your early reader series, The Ballet Cat, but it’s so fun when kids can just like, just make their way through a book so fast. I think that’s empowering, right? And then there’s another one ready for them to go. So, I love that.

Bob Shea: I do. I try to remind myself of that all the time. Like I’m trying to write a chapter book right now and I’m consciously keeping the chapters as short as possible to keep the momentum moving. I used to do this when I was little—you look ahead to be like, this chapter is six pages long. How am I going to get through this?

Bianca Schulze: Right. And you don’t want to put the bookmark in the middle of the chapter. Like you want to put it at the start of the chapter. At least I do.

Bob Shea: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh no. Yeah. I was like, how am I going to get through this. I’m not starting this. I’ll never get to the end. I want the kids to turn the page and go, oh, the next page ends halfway down the page. That’s a good one. You know, there’s a big blank space for me to go, and every time you turn the page, you’re like, yeah, turn the page.

So yes, it’s rewarding that stuff.

Bianca Schulze: I think you and I, and our listeners, we’re book people, right? We love books. You’re not listening to this podcast if you don’t enjoy reading in some kind of form. Right? Or I imagine so. You know, I see my kids reading and you see kids reading and you visit schools, and the kids are very excited to see you and love it. But when I take a step back and I read statistics, you know, the statistics say that even fewer kids read for fun now.

So here are some stats that I have from the Pew Research Center. And they said the shares of American nine- and 13-year-olds who say they read for fun on an almost daily basis have dropped from nearly a decade ago and are lowest levels since at least the mid-1980s. And that was according to a survey in 2019, late 2019, and early 2020 by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. But the article went on to say that students who performed better on the reading section of standardized tests in 2020 reported reading for fun more frequently.

So, since you’ve got experience making animations for PBS kids and you help them develop a national literacy campaign, what do you think would help boost the number of kids who read for fun? Because sometimes I think the secret is as simple as reading to kids from the moment they’re babies and then making sure that a large helping of those books are just lots of fun. What are your thoughts?

Bob Shea: You know what? I agree with that 100%. I think about when I was a kid, as I was just describing. First of all, when I was really little, books were all over the house for me, like picture books. My mother had joined this–It was like a Random House club where they would come in the mail every month. So, every month she’d pull a cardboard box out of the mail and be like, here, you got another book. And they were just around the house on the floor, the same value to me as toys. You know, they were there, so I just read them.

And when I started reading, when I went into like middle school and elementary school, it was for fun because I thought that was a fun thing to do. No one had to coax me into it. And again, as I said, with Encyclopedia Brown, I read those because I could because it was short and fun to read. I think that’s it. These things have to be super fun and engaging. There’s so much competition.

Now, I’ll tell you, if there was Netflix and all this kind of stuff, if there was the Internet when I was a little kid, I don’t know that I would have been reading that much. Too much competition for eyeballs right now.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah. Yeah. So, keeping it fun and keeping lots of books. Yeah. Different genres that pique interests.

Bob Shea: Like, I think all of this. You got to see what you like. I mean, my son never read any fantasy stuff and knew it would have to be realistic fiction—and that’s fine. I was never like; you should read a variety of things. I was glad he was reading things. Yeah, and the same as when I was a kid, if somebody had foisted something on me that I wasn’t interested in, I would have been reading is terrible. Like why? It’s a chore. Reading’s a chore.

And I’ll tell you, he went through that in middle school. He had teachers—and it was only one specifically—one who made it a chore. Like he loved reading. And then he was like on every page, I have to do this thing and whatever, however, it was. But it really just knocked the enjoyment out of it. And he started to see books, not as a source of entertainment.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah. Yeah, I hear that for so many people. So, on the topic of reading fun books, you’ve published many of them. I don’t know what your official count is right now.

Bob Shea: Oh, me neither.

Bianca Schulze: But, you know, Chez Bob came out last fall and the fan-favorite Who Wet My Pants, illustrated by Zach OHora. Well, what should we expect to see from you next? Is there anything you’re allowed to talk to us about?

Bob Shea: Oh, yeah. I have another one coming out pretty soon. First of all, Chez Bob has a sequel that I’m working on now. And that’s kind of a big secret. I guess I shouldn’t have told you. It doesn’t matter.

And then I have a board book series I’m really excited about because I didn’t draw it. So, it’s much more exciting for me; you know what I mean? Like, I don’t look at the illustrations and go, oh, I should have changed that. Why didn’t I do that differently? So, I look at it and I’m going, wow, he did a really good job with this. It’s called Adurable: Little Pups in Big Trucks. And it’s puppies and construction vehicles. And it’s a board book. But the thing is, they’re not heroic in any way. They’re like toddlers, so they’re pretty incompetent. But it’s like if you put a toddler in heavy machinery, that’s what it’s like. So, I was really excited about it. So that comes out in a few weeks, too.

Bianca Schulze: Oh, that’s super fun. I think there will be lots of kids that want to gobble those books up for sure.

Bob Shea: I hope so.

Bianca Schulze: So, when we were talking about the question from the anonymous write-in, I thought of another question. You know, because you visit schools and do your Instagram lives. And surely some people tell you how they feel about your work or describe it. I’m curious, off the top of your head, what’s the nicest thing anybody’s ever said about your work?

Bob Shea: You know, the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about my work probably happened about a month ago when I was getting ready to do a Zoom visit and I was chatting with the librarian beforehand and she was saying, oh, you know, we love your stuff. Blah, blah, blah. And then she said, I heard a little girl explain to a little boy what your books were. And because he was like, oh, what does Bob Shea write? And the little girl said to him, oh, he writes comedy. Oh. And I was like, that is all I’ve ever wanted to hear.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah. Yes. I just love a good just, simply fun book. And yeah. On this continuous topic of fun, this has been really fun talking to you, Bob. So, before we go, I want to go back full circle and finish with what you hope readers will take away from reading I Am a Baby.

Bob Shea: Oh, I hope that parents can relate to it and find a little humor in this whole shared experience that parents have and that and because it would be fun to watch little kids read it because they won’t exactly know what’s going on, but they’ll think it’s funny anyway.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah, definitely. And I just think, what a great baby shower gift, a great gift for an older sibling, you know? And I feel like as a parent now, I will not have any more babies, but giving your book to another parent will bring me so much joy. You know, I just think it’s so great. I loved every second of it, right down to the little eye bags, as I said before.

Bob Shea: Thank you so much. I appreciate.

Bianca Schulze: Yeah. Bob, thank you so much for coming on today. And I just think this book is going to be a big hit. And we can’t wait to see all the new books you have coming.

Bob Shea: Oh, great. Thank you so much.

About the Book

I am a Baby by Bob Shea: Book Cover

I Am a Baby

Written and Illustrated by Bob Shea

Ages 2+ | 40 Pages

Publisher: Candlewick | 9781536218329

Publisher’s Synopsis: From the creator of the mega-popular Dinosaur vs. series comes a hilariously deadpan look at new parenthood—from a baby’s point of view.

I am not sleepy.
I am not sleepy because I am a baby.
Mommy is sleepy.
Mommy is sleepy because I am a baby.

With humor and sympathy, Bob Shea looks at the chaos of life with a baby as amiably narrated by the new arrival. Repeating the mantra (and blithe explanation) “because I am a baby,” the tiny narrator leads us through scenes of exhaustion, grumpiness, squishy diapers, spilled milk, cowering kittens, and chubby overfed pups (oopsie!). Playing against the simple, matter-of-fact text are freewheeling illustrations of mess and mayhem, in which the grown-ups’ exaggerated body language is sure to send older children into fits of giggles.

With its endearing, unabashedly self-pleased star, I Am a Baby will find a place at showers, in nurseries, on parents’ shelves, and in the hands of appreciative big siblings, as it celebrates the changes a little one brings, at once challenging and full of love.

Buy the Book

Show Notes

Visit Bob Shea at and

Chez Bob

Who Wet My Pants

Adurable: Little Pups in Big Trucks

Ballet Cat


Adobe Fresco

Article from the Pew Research Center: Among many U.S. children, reading for fun has become less common, federal data shows.

Discussion Topics:

  • About I Want a Baby
  • Bob Shea’s reflections on being the parent of a baby
  • A talk through the funny moments in the book from pre-baby to parent
  • Can dads really sleep through anything?
  • Behind the scenes on making art with Bob Shea
  • Using Procreate to create children’s book illustrations
  • Tapping into the true essence of childhood
  • What is Bob Shea working on now?
  • Statistics on how many kids read for pleasure
  • How to encourage kids to read
  • A big secret is accidentally revealed
  • Bob Shea’s hopes for I Am a Baby.

Thank you for listening to the Growing Readers Podcast episode: Bianca with Bob Shea on I Am a Baby. For the latest episodes from The Growing Readers Podcast, Follow Now on Spotify. For similar books and articles, you can check out all of our content tagged with Bob Shea, New Baby Books, and Picture Book.

How You Support The Children’s Book Review

We may receive a small commission from purchases made via the links on this page. If you discover a book or product of interest on this page and use the links provided to make a purchase, you will help support our mission to ‘Grow Readers.’ Your support means we can keep delivering quality content that’s available to all. Thank you!

June 14, 2022 at 12:31PM Bianca Schulze