cover image A Band of Babies

A Band of Babies

Carole Gerber, illus. by Jane Dyer. Harper, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-168955-0

Benny, a newcomer to play group, exudes energy as he toddles into a room filled with bored babies, whose eyes brighten with anticipation. After Benny pulls a drum from a toy box, his playmates follow suit, and Gerber’s (Tuck-in Time) story takes off—as do the babies. Drumsticks in hand, Benny issues a command (“ ‘Sticks!’ says Benny. Babies cheer./ ‘Go!’ says Benny. ‘Out of here’ ”), and the round-faced toddlers happily bang on drums as they follow Benny to a grocery store. (Lest adult readers worry too much, the babies’ caretaker is present throughout, making their adventure feel more like a chaotic field trip than a great escape.) Dyer’s (the Cookies series) soft colored pencil illustrations delight in the messy havoc wrought by this multiracial crew as the toddlers topple displays, feast on goodies, and leave behind a trail of leftovers when they finally totter out of the shop: “Babies wobble. Babies stoop./ Babies’ eyelids start to droop.” It’s an exuberant celebration of toddlers’ willful, can’t-be-stopped independence, and Gerber’s carefully crafted rhymes and Dyer’s cherubic portraits balance tenderness and mischief on each page. Ages 4–8. (June)