cover image How Do I Love You?

How Do I Love You?

Leslie Kimmelman, , illus. by Lisa McCue. . HarperCollins, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-001200-7

With a tip of the hat to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Kimmelman (Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Nights ) and McCue (The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy ) enumerate from one to 20 ("plus one more") all the things a grown-up alligator loves about its offspring (neither one's gender is specified). "Seven I love your chocolate cheeks," says the big gator while scrubbing the little one in a bubble bath. "And eight your muddy feet—/ your squishy, squashy, messy ways/ your face, so tasty sweet." As McCue depicts the genial, emerald-green duo in a wide range of cozily familiar parent-child vignettes (splashing in puddles, hanging artwork on the wall, jumping in the leaves), the text incorporates bright color-coordinated versions of the numbers in both their written and numeral forms to help readers track the loving litany. The artist inventively solves one would-be dilemma, for "Twelve I'll love you when you're grown;/ Thirteen I love you small," by depicting the little critter in a funhouse mirror on opposite sides of a spread, one reflection enlarged, and one reduced. Kimmelman's versifying is economic, energetic and admirably varied (some numbers get their own stanza, while others come in groups of twos or threes). This bouncy, sweet love note from parent to child makes an excellent candidate for repeated readings. Ages 3-6. (Dec.)