Baby Squeaks

Anne Hunter. Tundra, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7352-6909-5

The gift of gab proves deeply funny in Hunter’s (Where’s Baby?) earnest portrait of early language acquisition. Baby Mouse starts out as a quiet infant, but after the diminutive mammal utters a first word, then a second, language flows suddenly and inexorably forth. Speech balloons of varying sizes, comically filled with typewritten lines that repeat only the word “squeak,” emanate from Baby Mouse as the youth is fed, carried, and tucked in to bed. When Mama, seemingly in need of a moment’s peace, places her child outside their tree home, the mouse is unfazed. “Baby talked and talked... and talked,” encountering various animals who turn tail, and finally, a young fawn who simply conks out in the face of Baby Mouse’s chatter. In a full spread, elegant ballpoint pen and colored pencil images—which follow finely cross-hatched, grayscale figures atop a sky blue background—show Baby Mouse relaxing upon the snoozing fawn’s back, an enormous word balloon floating above them. When Mama Mouse awakens, panicked, from a nap of her own, Baby Mouse’s squeaks lead her straight to her child’s location—gently instigating a moment of silent succor, and a final image that honors, without judgment, both parties’ realities and needs. Ages 3–7. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary. (May)
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