cover image Pouch!


David Ezra Stein, . . Putnam, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-25051-4

Stein (Leaves ) captures intuitively the way youngsters of every species explore the world around them. Readers will recognize baby kangaroo Joey's antics as he ventures cautiously out of his mother's pouch, is startled by an animal he's never seen before and leaps back to safety, crying, “Pouch!” In Stein's well-paced spreads, Joey goes one hop further every time (“two hops to the tall grass,” “three hops to the little hill”), encountering a bee, then a rabbit, then a bird, all drawn in Stein's warm paintings, accented by expressive, scribbly crayon outlines, which convey tons of movement amid Joey's every bounce. At last he encounters another baby kangaroo, and the two startle each other. “Wait!” Joey says, as they giggle together. “You were afraid of me, too?” When their mothers offer their pouches, the newly independent friends wave them off: “No, thanks.” Joey's mother is patient, the animals he meets are friendly and clearly harmless (very young readers will understand this even if Joey doesn't), and his new friendship makes for a satisfying conclusion. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)