cover image Beasty Bath

Beasty Bath

Robert Neubecker, . . Scholastic/Orchard, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-64000-8

Like Izzy in Neubecker's Wow! City! , the unnamed heroine of this ebullient bedtime book is full of toddler enthusiasm. "The evening's come, I hear a roar,/ it's time to catch my dinosaur," announces the girl's father as bright pen-and-ink and watercolor wash drawings trace the shenanigans of his would-be beast in full imaginative regalia. On each succeeding page, Neubecker minimizes the father's participation and highlights the girl's plethora of expressions and costumes. She's delighted, startled, demure, amazed, and on each page she morphs into a different creature. She scrubs her feet, "all thirty-three," as she pretends to be a sea monster bathing. "Shampoo your beasty mane of glory," says the father, "soon we will read a bedtime story!" (alas, no illustration shows the girl and her father reading). Neubecker's imaginative bestiary is toddler-savvy; the creatures appear more like fantastical masquerade costumes than scary beasts. The girl brushes her teeth (she sees a toothsome monster in the mirror), gets tucked in (her bed brims with stuffed animal beasts), and finally, her father's hand turns out the lamp as readers see the girl heroine for the first time, snuggling on her pillow. Neubecker carries the fun one step further by showing green jungle grass creeping around the girl's bed, thus presaging the final image of the girl asleep like a puppy in a litter full of beasts. An inventive bedtime romp. Ages 3-6. (Oct.)