Already a Junior Library Guild Selection, 2018
The First Laugh Ceremony is a celebration held to welcome a new member of the community.
As everyone—from Baby's nima (mom) to nadi (big sister) to cheii (grandfather)—tries to elicit the joyous sound from Baby, readers are introduced to details about Navajo life and the Navajo names for family members.
Back matter includes information about other cultural ceremonies that welcome new babies and children, including man yue celebration (China), sanskaras (Hindu) and aquiqa (Muslim).
Rose Ann Tahe (Diné) was born into her mother’s clan, the Red Running into the Water Clan (Naaneesh’t’ezhi Tachii’nii nish’li), and born for her father’s clan, Salt Clan (Ashiihi bashish’chiin). Rose held a doctoral degree in elementary education leadership and a master's degree in elementary education. Rose died in 2015; her son and three daughters are glad that their mother’s dream—to publish a book about the First Laugh Ceremony—has come true.
Nancy Bo Flood lived on the Navajo Nation for fifteen years, where she met Rose. Nancy was a research psychologist and studied brain development at the University of Minnesota and the University of London before writing books for children. She has a special interest in legends and folklore. Her titles include Soldier Sister, Fly Home; Warriors in the Crossfire; and Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo. www.nancyboflood.com
Jonathan Nelson (Diné) was born into his mother’s clan, the Towering House Clan (Kiiyaa'áanii), and born for his father’s clan, Mexican clan (Naakai Dine’é). Jonathan holds a masters degree in visual communications from the University of Arizona and specializes as an illustrator, fine artist, and creative consultant. This is his first picture book. www.badwinds.com
Hot-off the press review from Publishers Weekly
First Laugh—Welcome, Baby!
In Navajo families, a baby’s first laugh is more than a developmental milestone—it’s an honor to be the first person who makes the baby laugh, and the event is commemorated with a joyous gathering called the First Laugh Ceremony. The baby in this story, however, is making the family work for his giggles. "Your mouth open wide… It stretches… A smile? Oh, no. It’s a sleepy pink yawn," write Tahe (a Navajo educator who died in 2015) and Flood (Cowboy Up! Ride the Navajo Rodeo). Not even baby’s ninaai (big brother), with his silly faces, can coax a grin. Then one day, cheii (grandfather) holds the baby high in the air, nima-sani (grandmother) whispers a traditional prayer, and "like babies everywhere—long ago and today—you laugh!" Debut illustrator Nelson, also of Navajo descent, contributes cartooning that captures an expansive, brilliantly hued outdoors and a close-knit family delighted with their newest addition. An extensive afterword gives more information on the ceremony as well as on baby celebrations in other cultures. Ages 2–5.