“Once Upon a Story” Reviews Hey, Baby, Look!

Reviewed by Maria Burel for Once Upon a Story

My thoughts: in the 6½ years I’ve been doing this parenting gig, we’ve read a lot of board books. Particularly with my youngest who was a little more “hands on” in his reading. Meaning, he would either eat or destroy paper books.

We’ve read the simplest of board books, with a single image and corresponding identifying word on a page. We’ve read board book adaptations of longer picture books. We’ve read Sheep in a Jeep until the jeep wasn’t the only ting in pieces.

But we hadn’t read anything quite like Hey, Baby, Look! Each page starts with the phrase, ‘Hey, Baby, look! which, if your kid is like mine, actually words to focus the reader’s attention on that page. This is then followed by a series of questions or directions corresponding with one of four images on the opposite page:

Hey, Baby, look!

Which keep you warm?

Point to the boat.

Where is the shoe?

Which one can float?

The questions vary in cognitive ability, which is nice because it extends the life of this book. Skills range from identifying objects, to colors, to counting, to letters. The images are simple, bright, and distinct. Youngest readers can be guided through the questions with finger-pointing, while my older (3yo) reader actively engages and verbally responds without my prompting. We may be beyond the board books with single images and identifying words, but this one keeps his attention and is kept in regular rotation at our house. A fun addition to any early literacy library!

“Indie Reader” Reviews Hey, Baby, Look!

IR Verdict: “HEY, BABY, LOOK!” is a delightfully entertaining book to spark a child’s conversation, activity and learning.

indie-approvedSparking chatter and vocabulary, “HEY, BABY, LOOK” is a beautifully designed board book that offers a simple, thoughtful narrative to provide visual stimulation and talking points for babies and toddlers.

It’s difficult to say which is more enticing and thought-provoking – the crisp, clear and colorful illustrations or the simple abab rhyming pattern of the narrative that introduces color, things, animals and offers a springboard for talking points with toddlers and youngsters about concepts such as our sense, movement and nature.

“HEY, BABY, LOOK!” is aesthetically pleasing. Beside the usual round edges and the high quality stiffness, the layout is equally well thought out. It offers a double page layout, with the narrative facing four images – each clearly organized within a square. This makes for a striking visual impression. The colors are bold and bright, and nicely contrasted against the bright white background, but also within each frame. The range of images and activities that are encouraged, such as pointing to, singing and counting, make this book appealing to a wide range of ages – from babies to toddlers and even preschoolers. The variety of images will also encourage children and parents alike to read and re-read this book to fully absorb all the conversation and information it can offer to young, curious minds.

“HEY, BABY, LOOK!” is a delightfully entertaining book to spark a child’s conversation, activity and learning.

~ IndieReader

Interactive Indie Baby Board Book Wins a Host of Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  (Minneapolis, MN)   Kate Shannon’s children’s board book, Hey, Baby, Look! was honored last night with three finalist’s medallions at the 25th Anniversary Midwest Book Awards, sponsored by the Midwest Independent Publishing Association. Winning categories included Children’s Nonfiction, Children’s Picture Book, and Graphic Illustration. Backed by brain research and ideal for ages 0-3, Hey, Baby, Look! is filled with interactive fun for reader and child.

Last month, Shannon also won the Beverly Hills International Book Award for Children’s Nonfiction, the Indie Book Award for Children’s/Juvenile Nonfiction, the 2nd place award for Children’s Books at the San Francisco Book Festival, and the Gold Medal in the Children’s Picture Book (0-3 years) category at the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Awards, which is sponsored annually by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards are recognized as one of the highest national honors for independent authors and publishers. Winning books are selected based on the judgment of over 150 book publishing professionals in fifty-five different categories.

“I wrote my first children’s book when I was five and my second when I was 35,” says Shannon. “Three decades can be a long time to wait for something to come around again, but when it’s meant to be, it will surely find its way. I’m thrilled to share these honors with talented illustrator, Morgan Owens, and our amazing project manager, Book Bridge Press.”

A graduate of the University of Minnesota and Indiana University, Shannon’s publishing company, Blue Dream Books, is an independent house of writing, art, and imagination. Seeking to help multiply moments of joy and connectivity, Blue Dream Books carries messages of aliveness, gratitude, reflection, creativity, learning, play, and possibility. With another 24 lined up behind it, Hey, Baby, Look! is Blue Dream Books’ first published book. Originally from Elkhorn, Wisconsin, Kate now lives in the Twin Cities with her young family.

Morgan Owens, Illustrator: Why I’m a Raving Fan!

Working with Morgan Owens on Hey, Baby, Look! was an amazing gift and a remarkable experience. He possesses so many admirable qualities as an artistic person and creative partner, and I’m surely in the “raving fan” category when it comes to the work he did for this book; hence, this blog-post. The application of neuroscience and academic research underpinning Hey, Baby, Look! make it conceptually solid. The rhyme and cadence and linguistic simplicity create the space for some incredible bonding and learning. This is all well and good, but Morgan is the one who made it all come to life! So what made him so amazing? At least six fundamental things.

1. Practiced talent. Long before I met him, Morgan Owens had far surpassed Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours toward becoming highly skilled in illustration, and it showed. I saw him draw this little guy in a a handful of minutes.


Cityscapes, animal portraiture, flowers, cartoons—from the complex, to the sophisticatedly simple—he could do it all! He has talent. A ton of it.

2. Confidence without ego. In a way that I admired and sort of envied, he was able to accept feedback and criticism of his work without ever taking it personally. “You don’t like the dog,” he said to me once, “that’s okay. That’s not about me, it’s about the dog. You have the vision. Speak what you want to see, and I’ll recreate it.” And he did. Every. Single. Time.


3. A thought leader. Sometimes he delivered things I didn’t even know I wanted. He anticipated the impact of the message and often led the illustrative conversation by showing me, rather than telling me, how things could be done differently. For example, on the final page of the book, there are four colorful pictures. Where there is currently a beautiful basket of fruit, I’d asked for a cornucopia. Morgan drew and delivered the most gorgeous cornucopia, just as I’d requested, but then he also presented the lovely basket. “I’m offering this up,” he explained,” as a more culturally ubiquitous and timeless understanding of food.” Sold. He was right and the basket went to print. In hindsight, I’m so grateful for the times he lead with his soft courage and gentle but confident guidance.


4. Prompt communication. You’d think that this one would go without saying, but it is a changing world, and not everyone is courteous or considerate of another’s time or timelines. As with any consummate professionals, the communication on this book felt seamless—fun, collegial, productive, efficient, effective, highly respectful, and easy.

5. Mind reader. Okay, so while perhaps not an actual reader of minds, Morgan was extremely good at deciphering my literal and non-literal messaging and turning those conversations into shape and form. I think what belies this ability is his excellent communication skills. He didn’t always ask a million questions, but he did a lot of listening, and in some amazing way, he took what felt to me like “author babble,” and he turned it into the images in my head. That’s a remarkable gift, and it made my life so unbelievably easy.

6. Collaborative spirit. The creative process behind the build-out of the imagery seemed like a true give and take. Morgan really wanted me to be happy with each tile and seemed genuinely willing, without reservation, to change, modify, or scrap altogether an image he’d completed. There were countless style iterations of everything from cars, chairs, and dogs to forks, flamingos, and flowers. He tested shape, dimension, scale, scope, color, realism, everything! And the back-and-forth to produce the final book always felt like a partnership—that we had co-created something magical.


I’m looking forward to seeing him at the Midwest Book Awards (sponsored by the Midwest Independent Publishing Association) this Wednesday, May 13th. Hey, Baby, Look! has been named a finalist in three different categories—including for illustration. Fingers crossed. Good luck, Morgan Owens!

“Read Aloud Literacy” Reviews Hey, Baby, Look!

Reviewed by Carol Null for Read Aloud Literacy

This book offers ample opportunities for both interactions and transactions, between the reader, text, and illustrations. The repetitive lead organizes and announces each page, Hey, Baby, Look!…then delivers, with the fluency of rhyme, sentence structure, and with diversity of conventions. This book offers questions, prompts, conversations, and places to pause and think. Each page give you a new reason to revisit this book. Ample samples of sorting, counting, texture, dimension, patterns, color, and science. I appreciate the content vocabulary words like points, float, fins. And the integration of challenges for the reader to find differences, think about their senses, and articulate understanding by answering questions like, “How many are sweet?” or “Which keep you warm?”

This illustrations are colorful and clear and the organization and layout of the art and color demonstrates such purpose and respect for those who will be lucky enough to have access to this book. I do not often get to review board books, and this little treasure shows me that a board book can be so much more than a chewable, stain proof, literacy prop for the toddler in your life. Hey, Baby, Look! scaffolds the reader so they can offer a highly engaging, interactive, and literacy rich read aloud.