MÉME: THE BABY BOOK
New from Tahanan Books!
Made for expecting parents or families with newborn babies, Méme is a picture book that chronicles a single day in the life of a baby. Long before it was used to describe a virally transmitted unit of information, méme was a well-worn word passed from parent to child for generations of Filipinos. To this day, there are families who practice this time-honored tradition, when whispering “méme” to an infant meant to give him the best gift of all—the gift of sleep.
Filipino families living here and abroad will also appreciate a parallel bilingual text that uses basic, easy-to-understand Filipino words. Mothers and fathers are encouraged to read the book to the their child, and then with their child, and finally, have the toddler child read the book on their own. The author hopes that very young children will see themselves in the pages and know that they are the star of this book.
Reni Roxas is a writer, editor, and publisher. Her picture book Ay Naku! Won a National Children’s Book Award in 2011, and an anthology she edited, Hanggang sa Muli: Homecoming Stories for the Filipino Soul, was shortlisted in 2012 by the Manila Critics Citcle for Best Anthology in English. In 2019, she won a first prize Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for her children’s story, “Pretty Peach and the Color-Matching Kaleidoscope.”
Kora Dandan-Albano has illustrated over 45 children’s books for both local and international publishers. All About the Philippines, a book she illustrated for Tuttle Publishing, received the American Moonbeam Children’s Book Award gold prize in 2016.
A writer herself, Kora is the daughter of Perdo S. Dandan, a prolific, multi-awarded fiction writer in Filipino. Her children’s book, Habulan, written in verse, won a National Children’s Book/ Best Reads for Kids Award in 2016. Her most recent picture book is Ed-Eddoy: An Ifugao Folk Song (Tahanan Books, 2018). The artist lives in Baguio with her family.
A BOOK REVIEW written by Carla M. Pacis
As we grow older and build a vocabulary, we forget the power of nonsense words like meme and dede. So much meaning is packed into these words made up by babies who have to yet learn how to roll words around their tongue.
When I was teaching children’s literature, I would begin with the simplest of all books, the board book, so called by American publishers because they were made of cardboard that could not be torn or bitten through and could get wet and thrown around. They were small in size, perfect for baby hands. These books had only a few pages, with a minimal number of words and entirely illustrated. It was in the illustrations that the story was being told. But the words are necessary. And as simple as it sounds, it is hardest to write. Words are carefully chosen and distilled, for reading aloud, preferably to an audience of one, who will lap up these words like music. How else explain why we Filipinos as adults know what méme means?
We follow a baby through his day as he navigates his world with words that are transformed into music through figurative language.
Alliteration – gapang, gatas; subo, sipsip; agaw,ayaw, akin,aray, and meme, mama that makes for a great ending. Assonance – agaw, ayaw; iyak, yakap. Rhyme – gigil di mapigil, kiliting-kiliti ang kilikili. Onomatopeia – belat, bulaga, pikit, kiliti, gigil, and wi-wi, utot, u-o, no-no words in a time past.
The watercolor illustrations are cool to the eye. They are detailed and nuanced particularly baby’s different expressions and gestures – a puckered lip eager to latch on to mama’s full breast or the anxious eyes while potty training or the loving gesture that baby gives mama while she sleeps – and all precious, the most being that of mama breastfeeding baby. The next best is a toss-up between, mama reading to baby and baby putting mama to sleep.
What a wonderful book to inspire a love of reading!