cover image The Bog Baby

The Bog Baby

Jeanne Willis, , illus. by Gwen Millward. . Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-375-86176-5

Bog Babies have round blue bellies and little wings “no bigger than daisy petals.” The narrator, seen as a girl in a red jumper and pigtails, recounts finding one with her sister on a surreptitious visit to Bluebell Wood, “long ago, when we were little.” Her confiding, reminiscent tone is one of this irresistible book's chief charms: “We said we were going to Annie's house to play,” she admits, “but we didn't.” After a brief period of bliss (“We sneaked him into school in a margarine tub”), the Bog Baby falls ill, and the girls' mother, who has clearly caught a Bog Baby or two in her day (“When she saw who was in the bucket, she smiled and her eyes went misty”), helps the girls bring him back to the pond where he belongs. Willis (Mammoth Pie ) supplies numerous winsome details (“We fed him cake crumbs”), ever-fresh in the narrator's mind, and Millward's (Guess What I Found in Dragon Wood ) dreamy, doodly pen and ink spreads are similarly fragrant with nostalgia for childhood expeditions and the sheer magic of the outdoors. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)