Julius: the Baby of the World, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, is a fantastic “the baby is coming!” book for soon-to-be-siblings. The main character, Lilly, was first introduced in Henkes’ book Chester’s Way, where she is characterized as a stubborn,
devious, hilarious little girl. Lilly truly has a four year old’s personality put into a cute little mouse. Lilly is just as hysterical and independent as she is in Chester’s Way, but now she is expecting a new baby brother. She has been the only child of the family her whole life and adjusting to a new sibling can be scary. When she first finds out that her mom is expecting, Lilly is ecstatic. She brings him toys, sings to him every night, and tells him secrets. However, after her brother Julius is born, Lilly has a change of heart.
‘”Julius is the baby of the world,” chimed Lilly’s parents.
“Disgusting,” said Lilly’
Nothing that Lilly’s parents did could take away her jealousy. They gave her a later bed time, baked her cookies, and paid extra special attention to her every day, but nothing helped. At first, Lilly just hopes that Julius will eventually go away…but he doesn’t. She decides to confuse Julius by teaching him the alphabet in the wrong order. She starts to act like a baby in order to get attention, but ends up having to spend time in the ‘uncooperative chair’ for her immature behavior. She warns pregnant strangers about the dangers of babies, doesn’t invite Julius to her tea parties, and runs away seven times in one day. Lilly really doesn’t like having a brother. But when the time comes, will Lilly’s sisterly instincts kick in?
Lilly is dramatic, that is for sure. She expresses the feelings of envy that many young children experience when first adjusting to their new sibling. It can be extremely difficult for children to accept that they will now have to share their parent’s love and attention. Children reading this book will be able to relate to Lilly’s feelings and actions, making it a great book to read to children ages four to eight who will soon become big brothers or sisters. Julius: the Baby of the World is a story about jealousy, love, family, and having trouble adjusting to change.
Kevin Henkes has created a total of nine characters (all mice) that appear throughout his books. Each of the characters appear in several of his stories. If you want to read more stories with Lilly in them, the list of books is here. If you’re looking for more fun with Julius (the baby of the world), he stars in these books.