cover image BABIES ON THE GO


Linda Ashman, , illus. by Jane Dyer. . Harcourt, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201894-8

This crowd-pleaser showcases the way various parents care for their young. "Some babies stand up right away./ They take a step, then run and play," the volume begins. Three panel paintings on the left show mothers with their wobbly-kneed giraffe, deer or hippo, while across the gutter, the three newborns hit their stride. The next spread ("But many need more time to grow, so they have other ways to go") introduces an array of slower starters, whose mode of transport is explained in a series of rhymed couplets. "Surfing on a paddle-tail" serves as caption for a mother beaver towing her baby, for instance. A final page labels each animal portrait, but the emphasis is on reassurance more than science. The polar bear cub is "nudged along with gentle paws," and even the parent crocodile seems blissfully content with her baby who is "floating by in giant jaws." Although the text occasionally strains to make the verb tense fit the formula or reads awkwardly (e.g., the anteater baby "touring solo on their ride" and the lizard baby "boosted by a piggyback"), Ashman's (Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs) uplifting message shines through. Dyer's (Time for Bed) cuddly animal pairs with eyes full of love, reinforce the warmth of this delectably oversize volume. The ending brings the focus back to the audience, showcasing a plethora of human babies riding in strollers and backpacks: "Babies always ride with love." A 10 on the "aw"-inspiring scale. Ages 2-5. (Apr.)