cover image The Baby-Changing Station

The Baby-Changing Station

Rhett Miller, illus. by Dan Santat. Little, Brown/Tingley, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-316-45932-7

Ten-year-old James thinks life with his baby brother, Joe, can’t get any worse: “Now that he’s here,/ It’s perfectly clear/ That I/ Am in/ The way.” At the tan-skinned family’s official pizza night, his exhausted parents announce that James will have to change Joe’s “loaded up” diaper in the restaurant restroom. The bathroom’s baby changing station, however, is no ordinary amenity: a screen offers Joe three chances to change the “crybaby” into “cool stuff”—such as a pair of six-string electric guitars—and erase all memory of the “dumb kid” so no one is the wiser. But each tempting choice makes James ponder a future without his brother as a comrade or co-conspirator (“More often than not,/ Siblings who rock/ Make the best bands, says my father”), leading him to realize that “though he’s my nemesis/ I see a world in which/ He and I someday are friends.” The idea of a kid taking on his parents’ duties may not sit well with all readers, but Santat’s (The Blur) generously scaled, operatically expressive pencil and watercolor art and Miller’s (No More Poems!) age-appropriate weltschmerz propel the story forward, making for a contemporarily poo-laden twist on a Faustian bargain. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jennifer Gates, Aevitas Creative Management. Illustrator’s agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Aug.)