Phillis Gershator







About me



Babysitter jacket 

The Babysitter

illustrated by Mélisande Potter

Holt, 2004

*Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books, 2005
*Starred review, Kirkus

From the book jacket:

Baby cheeps like a bird,

   and I know why.
When Mama and Papa go out,
   Baby starts to cry.

     It’s hard when Mama and Papa leave home. You want to go with them. You want them to stay. You want to know just when they’ll return; and still, it’s not soon enough. But there’s lots of fun to be had with a loving babysitter on the watch. Just listen as she sings playful, comforting songs. Listen, listen and know "Mama’s coming home. Papa won’t be long. Hush, little bird. I’ll sing you one more song.”
     With nursery-rhyme images pulled from traditional lullabies of Africa, Spain, and Caribbean islands, this soothing picture book reassures young children that Mama and Papa will indeed be back home soon.

A little about the book:
So many friends, family, and editors helped with this project! It started out as a collection of lullabies, some of which my husband translated, and then it eventually evolved, with Christy Ottaviano at the helm, into a picture book. I discovered along the way how rich and varied slumber songs are, and how many of them are sung by babysitters, and also how very important lullabies are not only in soothing fussy babies but allowing caregivers to express their feelings. Lullabies offer insight into the differences and similarities of cultures around the world.
     Interestingly, researchers have come to the conclusion that babies hear music in the womb and that infant brains are predisposed to a universal musical structure. In fact, said researcher Sandra Trehub: “The very existence of music and important aspects of its structure may stem from the relevance of music to infants.”
     So, when a baby is born, and cries, and cries some more, music is born-- simple, singsong, and rhythmic. Some of the words might be meaningless--la la la, lu lu lu, yo yo yo, but some might also describe the realities of a daily life filled with danger, toil, and poverty, or a caregiver’s hopes, dreams, impatience, worry, fear, anger, sadness, tenderness, love....

     Listen to a touching lullaby from The Babysitter Sings and other original lullabies on our CD: This is the Day!

From the reviews:

“Cheerful tropical pinks, yellows, greens, and blues enliven this charming Caribbean nursery tale. A loving babysitter sings to her young charge, trying to keep him cheerful when Mama and Papa go away....A white bird, with babies in a nest, flits in and out of the pictures, one of many details...that toddlers will delight in spying. Young children and their parents, too, will enjoy this reassuring rhythmical tale.” Kirkus, starred review

“Done in ink and gouache, the brightly hued paintings give the book an appealing tropical island setting. The text’s reassuring tone and the dazzling artwork make this offering a gem to share with little ones experiencing separation anxiety.” School Library Journal

“Gershator smoothly integrates bits of traditional lullabies from Africa, Spain, and the Caribbean into original verse in this tribute to babysitters. Perfectly paired text and pictures follow baby and caregiver through a full day of games and songs, intermingling images from the rhymes; the seemless transitions in the text mean readers won’t miss a bet....As Mama and Papa return under a deep purple sky, baby and sitter snuggle close, eyes closed--a quiet moment at last. The book celebrate this undersung relationship while providing a bedtime resource sure to please little eyes and ears.” Horn Book