cover image The Babies Are Coming!

The Babies Are Coming!

Amy Hest. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-517-70943-6

It's no secret that babies love books about babies, and the opening pages of this volume presents a full dozen of them climbing, dancing, rolling and crawling as their families prepare them for evening story hour at the library. Here Hest's (In the Rain with Baby Duck) chipper narrative and Cheese's (Walking the Bridge of Your Nose) childlike pictures invite little fingers to point out who's who as ""four dads, five moms, two grandmoms, four grandpops, one uncle, one great-aunt, five bossy brothers, and six very bossy sisters"" clamor to get the wee ones into their pajamas and bundle them up in coats to brave a chilly night. Taking playful liberties with perspective and scale, the art bursts with color yet looks sloppy and unfinished (facial features and skin tones often appear to be smeared or uneven). And the illustrations as well as the story line lose much of their cheerful energy once the babies are ready for their expedition to the library, which youngsters will find disappointingly languid after the peppy preparations. Toddlers that gear up rather than wind down at day's end give this bedtime tale an inventive spin, yet these babies may come and go without leaving much of a mark. Ages 2-5. (Sept.)