Jane Kurtz, , illus. by Jane Manning. . Dutton, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-47358-9

This sentimental homily about how animal and human parents keep their children "warm and safe and snug" may disappoint fans of Kurtz's Water Hole Waiting . The book begins promisingly, with a mother buckling her preschool boy into a car seat and calling him a "bouncy kangaroo" as they head to the zoo. In a sepia-tone illustration, the boy imagines a kangaroo and her offspring riding alongside him, also sporting a seat belt. His mother then explains that a mama kangaroo carries her joey in a pouch, and the accompanying picture appears in full-color. But the animals smile like stuffed toys whether they are imagined by the boy or presented as denizens of the zoo. Immediately thereafter, the premise breaks down. Aside from the human mother carrying her child in a backpack like the "bush baby [that] rides on Mama's back at night," none of the other correlations between a human child's experiences and the animal world work. The rhyme and rhythm of the stanzas are also inconsistent, and the dialogue between mother and child stretches credibility. The quiet cheer of Manning's (The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches ) illustrations underscores the book's edifying tone. When the boy asks, near the close, why his mother must go with him wherever he goes, she answers, "All kinds of parents everywhere—/ wet or dry, low or high,/ .../ do their best to take good care/ of their little ones," and weights the book more toward didactic than entertaining. Ages 3-up. (Feb.)