cover image Mama’s Kisses

Mama’s Kisses

Kate McMullan, illus. by Tao Nyeu. Dial, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-525-42832-9

Four animal mothers know that it’s bedtime, but the kids—a little panda, monkey, elephant, and leopard—are anything but tired. They’re playing a rousing game of pirates in the branches of a tree, and when the mothers “stomp, stomp, stomp” over to collect them, they run and hide, disguising themselves as birds and flowers. While the kids may win in the short term (“Babies, we’re calling!/ We hope you are near!/ Playtime is over./ Sleep time is here”), the end is never in doubt, and none of the little ones looks too disappointed, given all the snuggles and sweet species-specific lullabies that McMullan (I’m Cool!) unspools: “Rock-a-bye bear cub,/ Come closer now, scootch/ So Mama can land/ a Panda bear smooch.” Nyeu (Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always) puts together a dreamy tapestry of blue curving lines and lush botanical motifs, with accents of yellow and orange that underscore the playful game of hide-and-seek woven throughout. McMullan’s rhymes are spot on in every way, and despite spiky moments of mischief, the overall impression is comforting and lulling. Ages 3–5. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Mar.)