cover image Sprout Helps Out

Sprout Helps Out

Rosie Winstead. Dial, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3072-4

Sprout is the sort of cheery older sister who causes more problems than she solves, and Winstead (Someday) gets smiles from the running disconnect between what Sprout believes is exemplary behavior and pictures that reveal otherwise. “Then Sprout brushes all her teeth... unlike others, who always forget. After everyone is minty fresh, Sprout puts Mom’s toothbrush back in its spot.” Pencil-and-wash drawings reveal that Sprout has used that toothbrush to polish the family dachshund’s teeth. “Sprout also does her own hair. And it always looks perfect” (with scissors, she’s removed a big chunk out of her bangs). Sprout looks a bit like a manga character, with big eyes and a surprisingly willowy form for a young child. The story’s quiet hero is Sprout’s mother, a painter who’s resigned to the mayhem so long as Sprout’s complacent baby sister stays safe and her older daughter’s pride flourishes. When Sprout enters the house with an entire sunflower, roots and all, her mother greets the situation with a game half-smile. It’s no surprise when her mother’s painting of the flower ends up bearing one of Sprout’s muddy handprints. Ages 3–5. (Mar.)