cover image On Baba’s Back

On Baba’s Back

Marianne Dubuc. Princeton Architectural Press, $9.95 (24p) ISBN 978-1-61689-912-7

Dubuc (Little Cheetah’s Shadow) keeps this warmhearted story simple and focused: Koko is a young koala who does everything on Baba’s back, as baby koalas do, while Baba comically withstands myriad caretaking indignities. Dubuc draws the child clinging to Baba’s gray fur and supplies a lighthearted list of all the things Koko does there. When “Koko eats on Baba’s back,” delighted readers may ask where Koko got that very tiny pink ice cream cone, which drips on the elder koala’s forehead. Next, “Koko plays on Baba’s back,” bouncing a ball off Baba’s head. And in a moment of hilarity, “Oops! Koko pees on Baba’s back” as Baba turns open-mouthed in consternation at the little yellow puddle. (“Koko takes a bath on Baba’s back” follows.) Determined to pursue some butterflies, “one day, Koko wants to choose where they go,” and a small-scale rebellion occurs as the youth at last leaves the safety of Baba’s body. It’s a small but primal conflict that resolves with satisfaction as Koko finds adventure, then returns without incident. A subtly slapstick board book for the very smallest readers, and a good beginning reader, too. Ages 1–4. (Jan.)