TEN REDNECK BABIES: A Southern Counting Book

David Davis, Author, Sue Marshall Ward, Illustrator , illus. by Sue Marshall Ward. Pelican $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58980-232-2

While marching readers back and forth between the numbers 10 and one, Davis (Redneck Night Before Christmas ) and Ward also celebrate (or introduce, in the case of Yankee readers) mainstays of Southern life, such as Moon Pies, grits, kudzu and chiggers. The book kicks off with an outing to town (bumper stickers on the family's van testify to the driver's patriotism and NASCAR devotion), but the rest of the couplets and pictures are mostly devoted to the sibling babies' (some crawling, some toddling) gentle mischief as they scamper in and around their rural home, clad in diapers or overalls: "6 redneck babies cotton pickin'—/ One ate a lunch of crisp fried chicken." The rhymes drawl but never quite sing, and Ward's watercolors, while sunny in tone and hues, resemble static greeting card illustrations. Because the characters' lives look appealingly bucolic rather than hardscrabble, children unacquainted with the meaning of "redneck" will probably come away thinking that it's just another way of referring to a Southern farm family. Whether that's good or bad is for grown-ups to decide. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 09/01/2004
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