cover image Too Small for Honey Cake

Too Small for Honey Cake

Gillian Lobel. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-206097-8

Lobel (Ellie and the Butterfly Kitten) takes the tender issue of relinquishing only-child status to heart in this story about a young fox and his ""stinky-pooh-baby"" brother. Little Fox's various antics are right on target with his age; he deliberately knocks down his blocks while his brother is napping, and his sing-song, ""Baby Fox is a stinky-pooh./ Put him in a box,/ and send him to the zoo!,"" sounds like it's straight from the neighborhood playground. Yet Lobel is careful not to condone this type of verse, dubbing it a ""Very Bad Song."" The omnipresent mobile, toys and other baby belongings in Braun's (Again!) illustrations serve to exacerbate the hero's feelings of resentment. When Little Fox decides to run away from home, he only gets so far as under the stairs-a place that's hardly immune to the comforting smell of honey cake that eventually lures him home. Both author and artist succeed in portraying a loving father fox whose unwavering sense of patience is a much-needed constant in the unsettling world of newly minted siblinghood. Ages 3-7.