The Boss Baby

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
The Boss Baby Book Poster Image
Very funny picture book imagines new baby as demanding boss.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value

Shows some baby behavior -- crying, throwing food, blowing "raspberries," starting to talk -- and baby needs. Period detail from mid-20th century in art.

Positive messages

Though babies are hard work and exhausting, they're also affectionate, and it's satisfying to watch them grow. Babies cry to get what they need, and change and develop when old strategies don't work. Babies can seem like tyrants because they need a lot of things from their parents and caregivers.  

Positive role models & representations

When the baby can't get what he wants by crying, he's resourceful and tries a new tack. That's how he learns to talk! The parents care for the baby's needs. Everyone responds to affection.

Violence & scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Boss Baby, by Marla Frazee (The Farmer and the Clown), is a wildly funny book about a new baby ruling the house. Frazee has loads of fun picturing him as a company executive who rules with an iron whim and keeps his parents hopping. Though this book pictures Boss Baby as a first and only child, readers who are older siblings can easily relate to the tyranny. In the sequel, The Bossier Baby, the Boss Baby's demoted by his new baby sister, who's even more of a tyrant. The Boss Baby has has inspired a spring 2017 computer-animated movie adaptation of the same name starring Alec Baldwin as the baby and Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow as his parents. 

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What's the story?

In THE BOSS BABY, a baby wearing a serious suit-and-tie onesie arrives in a taxi and takes charge of the household, putting Mom and Dad on a grueling schedule with no time off. He sets up his office in the middle of the living room and calls endless meetings, "many in the middle of the night." Though he can't even talk, he's "entitled to plenty of perks" that include a spa (baby bath) and executive gym (baby play gym). But one day when he makes a demand, his workers (parents) are collapsed sleeping on the couch, so he crawls over and says "Ma-ma? Da-da?" They rouse themselves and hug him happily, thrilled to hear his first words, but there's still business to attend to. The Boss Baby scoots away in his wheeled walker because "he was the boss of it."

Is it any good?

Anyone who's ever lived with a baby will relate to the bleary-eyed parents and laugh along in this very funny book that wrings humor from taking the baby's behavior to the extreme. In real life, babies may sometimes feel like cruel bosses, but the baby in The Boss Baby actually is one, complete with briefcase and home office. In both the text and art, the humor's in the detail. The Boss Baby calls "meetings," and doesn't allow his parents "time off."

Author-illustrator Frazee says she drew visual inspiration from the TV sitcoms of her youth, and this family and décor look mid-century modern. A gooseneck lamp overhangs Boss Baby's 1950s-era toys. The family's white, composed of a mom with a perky ponytail, a dad wearing an argyle vest and saddle shoes, and baby. A squishy family hug ends the book on a warm note, and though there's no sibling character, the book will be funny for older sibs as well.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the baby in The Boss Baby. Do you have a younger brother or sister? Does he or she act this way? Do you think you acted this way when you were a baby?

  • Does the art look like the story takes place today? What details in the pictures look modern? What details look old-fashioned?

  • What's the funniest part of the story? 

Book details

For kids who love picture books

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