cover image The Wicked Big Toddlah

The Wicked Big Toddlah

Kevin Hawkes, . . Knopf, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-375-82427-2

In this amiable tall tale, Hawkes (Library Lion ) introduces a Paul Bunyan-esque baby who wreaks havoc with lobster pots and playfully blows sailboats across a bay. On “the snowiest day of the year,”an overloaded stork struggles to deliver an enormous parcel to Maine. The next spread shows a plump, gargantuan infant arm reaching across a hospital room as baby's Toddie's new parents and three siblings gape. “Uncle Bert whistled, 'That's a wicked big toddlah ya got theyah, Jessie!' ” Subsequent spreads visualize Toddie's early months with his doting family in the Maine woods. He comes home from the hospital on a flatbed truck, dressed in an enormous red onesie and “booties that Mimmie Newcomb had knitted for him” (shellshocked Mimmie has wrapped her hands in bandages after her knitting ordeal). At diaper-changing time, family members don white toxic-cleanup jumpsuits and man a fire hose out on the lawn. Soon Toddie learns to speak and greets his relatives “in his biggest Maine voice,” saying, “hihowaahya?!!” Kid-pleasing scenes imagine Toddie bathing in the bay with fishing boats as toys, devouring an entire ice cream truck and being covered in fresh maple syrup after squeezing a tree trunk (and getting forest creatures, tin buckets, lumberjacks and relatives stuck to himself in the process). Hawkes's droll paintings capture the state's changing seasons and crisp blue skies, while poking affectionate fun at rural living: the family bookshelf covers “Huntin',” “Fishin' ” and “Sailin',” and many locals sport red-and-black hunting caps with earflaps. Readers needn't be from Maine to revel in the regional colloquialisms and slapstick gags that invigorate this larger-than-life story. Ages 4-8. (June)