"I'm Not Cute!"
Any child who hates to be cuddled and cooed over by grown-ups will likely identify with cuter-than-cute Baby Owl. "I'm not cute!" the winged hero proclaims to everyone who tells him he's adorable or small. "I am a huge and scary hunting machine with great big soft and silent wings." Allen's deft use of black line and woodsy palette features a toddler who has put up with more than enough pinched cheeks and unwanted hugs. He cringes when Fox pats his head and squirms when Squirrel admires his expressive "big baby eyes." It's not until Mama agrees with him that he's not cute at all, that Baby Owl wonders if his declaration isn't exactly in his best interest. Allen's depiction of Baby Owl's realization that he's backed himself into a corner and the image of his complete toddler meltdown are priceless. As Baby Owl shouts, "But I am cute!... I am! I am! " his mother knows bedtime when she sees it. After reading Baby Owl a story and tucking him in, she whispers, "You're so cute, Baby Owl.... For a huge, scary, sleek, sharp-eyed hunting machine, that is." With its satisfying "good night" ending, and its reassuring glimpse of an adult who remembers what it feels like to be small, this winning book will resonate with children and grown-ups alike. Ages 2-5. (Apr.)