cover image Wilhe'mina Miles After the Stork Night

Wilhe'mina Miles After the Stork Night

Dorothy Carter. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-33551-9

On the night her mother is ready to give birth, it's up to Wilhe'mina to make the trek to Mis' Hattie's and tell her that Mama needs help. As in Bye, Mis' Lela, their previous collaboration, Carter and Stevenson convey strong ties between characters against a gently nostalgic backdrop. The opening spread sets the scene with Wilhe'mina, ""going on eight years old,"" swinging under the umbrage of a giant tree in a yard defined by a picket fence. The author describes a girl conquering her fears when Mama sends her daughter on the harrowing journey to Mis' Hattie's house: ""A full yellow moon raced ahead of me. The moonbeams sprayed and pushed back the dark."" When Mis' Hattie returns from her mission, she doesn't give away the secret (""Go home, Sugar Plum, and see what the stork left for you""); readers get to discover the happy news right along with Wilhe'mina and watch the heroine emerge stronger for her role in her baby brother's arrival. If the characters' faces in the illustrations are sometimes uneven, the affection that emanates between mother and daughter, and the comforting mood, exuding from the soft-colored pastels, carry any inconsistencies. Mama's acknowledgment of her daughter's newfound confidence and Stevenson's closing portrait of a transformed Wilhe'mina conclude the book on a high note. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)