For our new blog, please visit

The classic “new baby in the family” book has always been A Baby Sister for Frances written by Russell Hoban and illustrated by Lillian Hoban.  Frances the badger is convinced that everyone is so interested in her new baby sister that they have no time or interest in her anymore and thus she decides to run away from home.

Thank goodness there are now so many newer and better new baby in the family books to choose from!

If the new baby has already arrived and the older sibling has expressed this unhappy sentiment, then A Baby Sister for Frances is a great book to read since Frances’ parents handle the situation with wit and grace and prove to be ideal parental role models.  But if this is not the case, this book can put things into the mind of the new big sister/brother.


Years ago, a pregnant customer in our bookstore purchased this book, was reading it to her daughter and was interrupted with “Mommy, why does Frances hate the new baby?” The mom promptly closed the book.  So it seems that the moral of the story is 'don’t put ideas into your child’s head'.  And don’t anticipate a problem that may never happen. These books are wonderful when the situation arises – read them to assure the child that what they are feeling is normal and common. But with no indication that there is anything but excitement and joy about the baby’s arrival, stick with books that reflect this mood – and be happy!

I’m A Big Sister and I’m A Big Brother

The texts in these two books by Joanna Cole and Rosalinda Kightley are identical with the exception of the gender terms.  They depict familiar situations that the child will relate to and have a reassuring tone that big sister or big brother is so special to her/his parents and plays an important part in the arrival of the new baby to the family.


My New Baby

This board book by Rachel Fuller is perfect for very young children who are now the older sibling in the family. The simple conversational text and lively illustrations are carefully designed to encourage dialogue between reader and child. Other books in this series (not pictured) include Look at Me!, Waiting for Baby, and You and Me.


I Used to Be the Baby

Author/illustrator Robin Ballard uses gentle illustrations and simple text to express the perfect sentiment. “I used to be the baby, but now I am big.” So begins the story of a not-very-big sibling who suddenly finds himself with a baby brother.  He willingly shares his toys with the baby, plays with him and teaches his brother things.  And the book ends with a common sentiment – that sometimes the bigger kid likes to be the baby as well – and in this loving family, that is no problem at all!


Best-Ever Big Sister and Best-Ever Big Brother

We always love Karen Katz for her delightful illustrations and perfect text for toddlers.  These books are no exception – and they have lift-the-flap appeal that will make surely them favorites!


On Mother’s Lap – by Ann Herbert Scott/illustrated by Glo Coalson

This story about a little Inuit boy who is cuddled on his mother’s lap is beautiful and timeless.  He brings all sorts of toys and objects back and forth until his baby sister cries and also needs her mother – then comes the wonderful sentiment that transcends all generations – “There’s always room on Mother’s lap”.


 If you'd like to order and of these individual titles, please call 1-800-905-7890! You may also request to have these included in your next purchase!

*** If you haven't joined our mailing list already, sign up here for special offers and discounts on your baby book baskets purchases! (I will never share your email address and will never solicit spam)!


Back in the days before the Internet, people had to rely on each other for information.  As co-owner of a children’s-only bookstore, there were many opportunities for parents who frequented Once Upon A Time to share stories, tips and advice on parenting.  The store served as a kind of community center, as we held countless story hours, activity sessions and author/illustrator appearances.

We even had a section of the store with books that were dedicated to special issues – these could be anything from adjusting to a new sibling, to potty training, to going from a crib to a bed…and also included more serious topics such as explaining death to a small child whose family had suffered such a loss.

On multiple occasions, our staff was asked for a simple book to encourage a young child to get rid of the bottle and drink from a cup.  We researched this, consulted an actual reference book called Books In Print (that was the equivalent of Google search for children’s books!) We also asked our publishers' sales reps if their company published this, and lo and behold, such a book did not exist. 

This led my partner to say “We should do it! Why not?” Who had better experience as moms ourselves and better communication with the numerous parents who came into our store? And we had the perfect models – the little tikes were living in our homes and our friends’ homes! We even found the perfect photographer to capture the precious little ones in bright, engaging photographs.  It was our experience that toddlers responded best to bouncy, rhyming text and photographs of children like themselves. And so, we brainstormed and wrote and photographed and sent out a proposal to a publisher and went on with our lives. Imagine our delight when Putnam Publishing contacted us to say that they wanted to publish My Bye-Bye Bottle Book as well as three other books we went on to create to complete a series of photo shape board books.

My Dressing Book

My Eating Book

My Bye-Bye Bottle Book

By Jane Gelbard and Betsy Bober Polivy

Photographs by Arthur Klonsky


Many years have passed and they have since gone out of print but the topics are as important and relevant for children today as they were back in 1989.  The back of each book read:

“Each sturdy book in this new series introduces familiar childhood activities with engaging rhymes and big, bright photographs – sure to entertain and encourage toddlers in their own growing-up experiences.”

P.S. the baby boy on the cover of My Bye-Bye Bottle Book is now 25 years old – and the little girl on the cover of My Dressing Book is 28, married and has a beautiful little girl! 

*** If you haven't joined our mailing list already, sign up here for special offers and discounts on your baby book baskets purchases! (I will never share your email address and will never solicit spam)!


I am a huge Todd Parr fan.  He is the author/illustrator of more than 30 books for children, and when you see one you know it – it is unmistakably Todd Parr!

All of his books sound like they could have been written by a child.  All of his books look like they could have been illustrated by a child.  And I mean this all as the highest possible compliment!

As children do, Todd Parr speaks from the heart.  His language is direct and clear and the best example of why less is more.  His drawings are bright and bold and for lack of a better word…lovable.  And he practices what he preaches.  The Earth Book (which includes a Go Green poster) is printed on recycled paper with non-toxic soy inks.

And he addresses issues that need to be addressed.  It’s Okay to be Different reassures kids that being different – whether it means having freckles or curly hair or wearing glasses – means being unique and special.  The Family Book redefines the traditional definition of a family because, as the book states:

Some families have two moms or two dads, 

Some families have one parent instead of two, 

All families like to celebrate special days together!

There is no right and wrong here – just total acceptance of the world and its inhabitants.  

All of Todd Parr’s books are the perfect vehicle to promote dialogue – between parent and child or teacher and child.  And when it comes to books for children, they are way above par!

A complete list of all Todd’s titles and more information can be found at


As you can imagine, in the baby book basket business, I see a LOT of baby names.

Some trendy, some traditional and some quite unusual (to say the least).

One trend that has been evident lately is baby girls with traditionally “boy names” – little pink bundles of joy named Ryan, Charlie, Aiden, Avery, Mason, Brett, Parker, Spencer and Morgan, to name a few.  A rather witty male teenager pointed out to me that Charlie is a great name for a girl if she grows up to be a tall, beautiful blonde… but not so easy to carry for a short, less stunning creature – he may have a point there! Certainly lots of actresses with “male names” come to mind – Morgan Fairchild, Parker Posey, Michael Learned and even Evan Rachel Wood (but her parents added the Rachel to avoid confusion).  AND celebrities have their own rules – and celebrity baby names are a blog unto itself!

We have also seen a trend that is not new but seems to be popular again – and that is moms who use their maiden names as their baby’s first name (thereby satisfying the husband who wants his bride to take his name but allowing the wife to “keep” her name by passing it along to her new baby!)   Some examples of this are Chase, Ellis, Grady, Cooper, Harrison and Quinn, to name a few.

There’s a lot to be said for an unusual name (as long as it isn’t too strange) so that there are not ten Andrews and ten Emilys in the same grade at the same school!  One thing is for sure…the days of Billy and Susie (or substitute whatever name is always male or female) are long gone…and on the first day of school when the teacher calls out a name, she may be surprised by who raises their hand!

But traditionalists take heart…

The most recently published Popular Baby Names list had Top Ten as follows:

MALE                              FEMALE

  1. Mason                               Emma
  2. Liam                                  Olivia
  3. Ethan                                 Sophia
  4. Noah                                  Ava
  5. Jacob                                 Isabella
  6. Jack                                   Mia
  7. Aiden                                 Chloe
  8. Logan                                Ella
  9. Jackson                             Emily
  10. Benjamin                           Abigail




When a new baby enters a family, the new mom can be very overwhelmed – so much to learn and know and do for this little one.

That’s what makes Adele Enersen’s new book about her new baby all the more amazing. “When My Baby Dreams” is a photographic masterpiece from the brilliant mind of this new mother.  When her baby Mila was born, Ms. Enersen started a blog of whimsical photos to share with her family and friends. The creative genius that went into creating the photographs resulted in a blog that was visited by millions of admirers around the world.

The author dresses her baby in colorful clothing (before she puts her down for her nap, of course), and then positions her in a wonderful world of textures and toys and household objects all arranged to create a theme.  It is fanciful, whimsical and perfectly precious!

This book would make a perfect baby shower gift






Who would ever “Bette” that Bette Midler would be in the Middle of this?


Children’s picture books are illustrated by some of the most amazing, talented artists of our time.  Naturally, as a children’s book lover, I am a children’s book art lover, as well, and as such, began collecting original art from children’s books many years ago.

Funny story: Back in 1991, the book FOR OUR CHILDREN came out.  It featured artwork donated by many celebrated illustrators with a collection of 20 song lyrics.  The profits and royalties went to benefit the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

One of my favorite children’s book illustrators, Tomie de Paola, created the art which accompanied a Bette Midler song.  The original art was auctioned off in California, also to benefit the charity.  At this time, my friend/business partner and I still owned our bookstore and had someone in California attend the auction and bid on the piece on our behalf.  To my delight, we got it!! To my dismay, we later found out we had been bidding against Bette Midler, who had also sent a representative. It seemed she wanted Tomie de Paola’s artwork of her song Blueberry Pie for her then baby girl’s nursery.  I felt terrible, and went to great lengths to contact “her people” to say she was welcome to the piece at the same amount it cost me – I wasn’t looking to make a profit – just truly felt she should have it.  I was told by her assistant that she would relay my message – which I doubt ever happened – but, at least I tried.  So, this great piece hangs in my house to this day!


*** If you haven't joined our mailing list already, sign up here for special offers and discounts on your baby book baskets purchases! (I will never share your email address and will never solicit spam)!


Life has a funny way of gently nudging us in different directions…

When I was a junior in college, Margret Rey was appointed as a professor of creative writing at Brandeis University.  I knew she was the creator of the classic Curious George books and thought it would be fascinating to meet her.

As an English major who was devoted to Creative Writing, I earned the honor of being chosen for an independent study with her.  That meant that every week, the three of us – Margret, her dog and I – would tuck ourselves away in her office for a wonderful hour discussing and dissecting children’s books.  I had no particular interest in children’s books at that time, other than being a voracious reader as a child, starting back in elementary school.   But there was something about this petite, grey-haired 73-year-old woman that captivated me. 

She began her collaboration with H.A.Rey, her husband, back in 1935 in Paris.  In 1940, the Reys fled Paris before the invasion of the Nazi army.  (Check out the wonderful book The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey by Louise Borden).

They traveled through Spain, Portugal and Brazil before landing in New York City with the illustrated manuscript of the new book they had written.  Curious George was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1941.  Margret wrote the stories, and her husband drew the illustrations.  They never had children of their own, and yet, they produced seven books about the curious little monkey as well as others – books that have graced our libraries and bookshelves for generations.

Fast-forward to 1985 – my best friend Betsy and her mom (author Natalie Bober – more about her in future blog) were opening a children’s only bookstore in Westchester, NY.  I was working in an advertising agency in NYC at the time and helping them with publicity and public relations in anticipation of the store’s grand opening.  It was then that Betsy asked me to join as a partner in ONCE UPON A TIME bookstore…and I have been involved in different aspects of children’s books ever since!  I can’t help but think that there was a plan laid out for me way back in that cozy little office with that special little woman…

These photos are from the Curious George Day at my store 20 years ago! And, yes, that is me dressed as the man in the yellow hat! Enjoy.





a Rafflecopter giveaway