cover image Ten Tiny Toes

Ten Tiny Toes

Todd Tarpley, illus. by Marc Brown. Little, Brown, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-316-12921-3

It is a truth universally acknowledged that babies have irresistible toes—“a hundred times sweeter/ than one could suppose,” as Tarpley (How About a Kiss for Me?) writes. And according to Brown’s terrific cut-paper, gouache, and colored pencil illustrations, it’s a sentiment that even the family dog can embrace. But toes are more than delicious and cute—they’re an essential player in ensuring that babies literally get a toehold in the world (“They tricked and they treated,/ those tiny toes did./ They pushed and they pedaled,/ they skated, they slid”). As Tarpley’s simple, bright rhymes gently accelerate in momentum along with the progress of their subject matter (“And one day those ten/ tiny toes tried a test./ Five toes took a step/ out ahead of the rest”), Brown (Dancing Feet!) shows babies of every background moving from adorable, giggly reactiveness to calm, clear-eyed independence. The veteran illustrator’s masterful juggling of color and patterning—which could have turned to visual mushiness in less experienced hands—brings a fresh warmth and celebratory energy to even the most familiar childhood scenes. Up to age 3. Agent: Rachel Orr, Prospect Agency. (Sept.)