cover image Oh My Baby, Little One

Oh My Baby, Little One

Kathi Appelt. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200041-7

As comforting as morning sun, this sweet, tenderly illustrated rhyming poem will reassure both preschoolers and their working parents that separation is only temporary. When a baby bird's mother hugs him before dropping him off at school, she reminds him that ""even when I'm far away,/ this love I have will stay/ and wrap itself around you/ every minute of the day."" Though Appelt's (Someone's Come to Our House) text has the occasional ring of a greeting card, her rhythmic, four-line stanzas are filled with simple images that preschoolers will understand: the mother bird says her love ""nestles in your pocket/ and makes itself so small/ that when you're busy playing,/ you won't notice it at all."" In the satisfying ending, the mother bird says that of all her activities, ""the sweetest thing I do/ is sweep you up and hold you tight/ and come back home to you."" As in her When Mama Comes Home Tonight, Dyer's radiant watercolors, this time of anthropomorphized animals, combine old-fashioned trappings with modern manners. The mother bird wears granny shoes and a straw hat decorated with cherries, but she also carries a briefcase and drinks coffee at a business lunch. Each picture, whether a full-bleed double-spread or a vignette, is filled with bright colors and patterns that are quaintly comforting. Given its timely theme and classic delivery, this could be a popular favorite. Ages 2-5. (Mar.)