First Laugh, Welcome Baby!

Rose Tahe (Dine') and Nancy Bo Flood · Illustrated by Johnathan Nelson (Dine')
Published by Charlesbridge. Order now!
First Laugh, Welcome Baby, by Nancy Bo Flood and Rose Tahe (Dine') and illustrated by Johnathan Nelson (Dine')

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.

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.

First Laugh, Welcome Baby, created in collaboration with Rose Tahe (Dine’) and illustrated by Jonathan Nelson (Dine’), Junior Library Guild Selection, Notable Social Studies Books, Southwest Picks of the Year, Reading the West Award, New York Public Library’s Best Books, Bank Street Best Books, 2018.

“First Laugh, Welcome Baby: Laughter is a holy gift for the Navajo people. Frolicking humor is woven into this charming story like the wool fibers of a traditional Navajo rug.” - S.D. Nelson, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, award-winning author and illustrator of Greet the Dawn — A Lakota Story.

“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.” - Publishers Weekly

“In this bright picture book, Navajo author and artist Tahe and Nelson, together with Flood, share a joyful tradition from the Navajo Nation: the first person to make a baby laugh gets to host the First Laugh Ceremony, a big party welcoming the baby to the community. (Bonus: The book also mentions similar celebrations from other cultures.) What a wonderful tradition!” - Elizabeth Bluemle, ShelfTalker (Publishers Weekly Blog)

Native Talk Arizona's interview with Nancy Bo Flood and First Laugh, Welcome Listen in at this podcast page.

Native Health in Phoenix are kicking off NATIVE HEALTH’s Kindergarten Boot Camp and will be using First Laugh, Welcome Each family will receive a complimentary copy. Go to the Native Health webpage for more information.