cover image A Book of Babies

A Book of Babies

Il Sung Na. Knopf, $15.99 (24p) ISBN 978-0-385-75290-9

“When the flowers begin to bloom and the world starts turning green, animals everywhere are born... including the noisy ducklings.” A mother duck whose brood hatches all at once sends the father duck off to look at other animal infants. He dives underwater to view fish babies (“Some have lots of brothers and sisters”), waddles on land to see zebras (“Some can walk right away”), and flies over ice floes to look at polar bear cubs (“some are born with soft, warm fur”). There’s a guessing game implied, too: the names of the animals aren’t given, so readers must supply them. Na’s (Hide & Seek) spreads mix textures and patterns like a series of quilts, punctuating fields of bright color and bold shapes with arabesques and filigree. A fixed horizon line gives the pages the feeling of an unspooling scroll. The golden light of afternoon turns into the orange of sunset as the babies prepare for their very first night (“babies everywhere need their rest”), and the sleepy ducklings settle down, too. Language, tone, and images all combine to create the gentlest bedtime entertainment. Up to age 3. (Jan.)