Simulacra, as Baudrillard tells us, “is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real”. Baby’s First Book (Little Golden Books, 1955; 2007) alerts us on this with its cover illustration: a toddler is reading a book (within a book) that has the exact cover of the “original” printed book on our hands. How a book from the 1950s saw that many republishing to come into our present is beyond me. Plain sticky.
The book also derives power from its very title: “Baby’s First Book”. No, this is your baby’s first book regardless if Baby Bunny got to you ahead. Inside its pages, we are introduced to the typical day of a child, starting with the ringing of an alarm clock. Get up early in the morning, fix the bed, go to the toilet and clean up. Do your thing until hunger for food marks the hours: make sure to eat healthy, but have room for treats at the end of day. Repeat ad infinitum.
The book is basically an initiation to daily life. Or at least the accepted version of it, with reality organized around the prescribed tasks of the day. Careful not to overstep your boundaries, and be content inside the four corners of the book where all is safe and sound. I’m the daddy and this is how my typical day goes by as well. Even if I keep the book away from my own baby, its pages will still unfold and coax our shared reality. The book ends with a paint set: a gift to the fictional baby who just turned one year old. So does it mean we’re permitted adventure, but only in our imagination?