August 19, 2020

Please Don't Change My Diaper!

Written by Sarabeth Holden
Illustrated by Emma Pedersen
Inhabit Media
28 pp.
Ages 0-4
June 2020 

As adults, we know why babies must have their diapers changed and why children should bathe. We know about cleanliness and hygiene and good health. But babies don't have any understanding of this. So, it's not surprising that when a mom swoops in for a diaper change, this little guy is screaming in his mind, "Please Don't Change My Diaper!"

From Please Don't Change My Diaper! by Sarabeth Holden, illus. by Emma Pedersen

In a charming rhyming voice, a toddler is excited at the prospect of heading outside to play in the snow with his puppy. Sure he smells something malodorous but,
I think I know...but let's just go!
Don't worry about where it's coming from.
Oh no, what's that you say, Mum?
And when his mother, only seen from his perspective as a pair of legs in slippers, socks and leggings, brings out the diaper, decorated in pale aqua with teddy bears, it's as if his whole world has collapsed. 

From Please Don't Change My Diaper! by Sarabeth Holden, illus. by Emma Pedersen
The toddler is tormented by the vision of a multitude of diapers. He's begging for her not to do this, and imaging telling his friends how much he cares for them, as if he would never see them again.
I will miss my fluffy puppy.
I will miss the sparkly snow.
To my best friends, near and far,
I love you, you must know!
From Please Don't Change My Diaper! by Sarabeth Holden, illus. by Emma Pedersen
With face grimacing with irritation and perhaps even fear, the little boy's diaper is changed.  Of course he survives the trauma and, in fact, is gratified by the "fresh, delightful feeling" while still recognizing that the world remains as it had. (That is, until another inevitable change is required.)

From Please Don't Change My Diaper! by Sarabeth Holden, illus. by Emma Pedersen
While Sarabeth Holden can only imagine what this little one is thinking, she ensures an authenticity with the innocence of his perspective, the mindfulness of the moment i.e., play over diaper change, and the singularity of his needs and wants. She makes him sweet and emotive while also timid and fearful, giving him a candid voice that rhymes with wonder and simple acceptance of his circumstances.  Emma Pedersen, whose artwork was reviewed in Queenie Quail Can't Keep Up (Jane Whittingham, 2019), emulates that simplicity of wonder in a child's life. His big eyes and cherubic arms anticipate both goodness and caring, even if he doesn't really want that diaper change. His worries, completely reflective of a very young child's point of view, are ephemeral in nature, regularly supplanted by new opportunities for a hug, for a cuddle with a puppy, for play. By the end of the book, the child has forgotten his discontent with a diaper change and accepts his life as one of comfort and affection.

I know this picture book is about a toddler who doesn't want his diaper changed, and so would be an appropriate book to help the very young accept their own diaper routines as normal, but Please Don't Change My Diaper! is also a reassuring take on circumstances that might cause some anxiety. The trepidation is real but perhaps recognizing the transient nature of some worries can be enough to put them aside like a dirty diaper, never to soil a perfectly good day.

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