cover image Welcome, Precious

Welcome, Precious

Nikki Grimes. Orchard Books (NY), $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-55702-3

An African-American couple exults in their baby, celebrating all the sights, sounds and snuggles that ""Precious"" (whose gender is not specified) experiences over the course of a busy day. Grimes's (Jazmin's Notebook) lilting text sensualizes the quotidian and domestic: a visit to the park welcomes Precious to ""rain-swept earth/ and spiced cider on the wind,"" as well as ""the cool delight/ of ice cream,/ the sticky joy of peanut butter,/ and the hint of honey/ in chocolate fudge."" Back at home, baby lavishes in ""the warm circle/ of your daddy's arms,/ the slippery kisses/ of your giddy grandmother,/ and the cool tickle/ of Mommy's nose/ rubbing against your/ belly button."" Grimes's elevated language finds its visual counterpart in the intense, at times almost surreal colors of Collier's (Martin's Big Words) large-scale watercolor and collage pictures (the bronze highlights he uses for his characters' skin are positively luminous), while his photographic rendering style anchors the compositions in the real world. And the bond between parents and child emanate from each composition. The book's visual and verbal poetry, however impressive, will be largely lost on the very young. One suspects the real audience is identical to its main characters: utterly besotted adults. Ages 6 mos.-3 yrs.