cover image How You Got So Smart

How You Got So Smart

David Milgrim, . . Putnam, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-25260-0

Milgrim's (Best Baby Ever ) breezy yet tender celebration of childhood achievements opens with a nod to its gift-book potential: a diploma proclaims, “You've made us all proud/ By who you've become,/ And we'd like to review/ How you did what you've done.” The focus on the hows rather than the whats of accomplishments broadens the book's relevance. While the lilting verse supplies general observations (“You wandered and wondered./ You loved to explore./ For every answer you got,/ you had three questions more”), buoyant, digital cartoons—supplemented by lighthearted speech balloons—furnish examples. Accompanying a shoutout for trying new things is a picture of the cheerful boy being served a squidlike creature as his mother insists, “It tastes like chicken!” In an endearing scenario, he goes fishing with his grandfather (“You had many teachers./ You learned from them well”), and when things aren't going so well, he takes out his aggressions on an inflatable toy. Amusing recurring graphics include frosted doughnuts—a favorite of the family dog—and a colander that serves as a helmet. It's an uplifting look at the dividends childhood curiosity can pay. Ages 1–up. (May)