cover image Busy Betty

Busy Betty

Reese Witherspoon, illus. by Xindi Yan. Flamingo, $19.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-5934-6588-2

An impetuous child’s enthusiasm finds a worthy channel in this peppy picture book by Witherspoon (Whiskey in a Teacup, for adults), whose heroine’s boundless, big-cartwheel energy is both adorable and a little unnerving. “Sweet cinnamon biscuits, I love being busy!” proclaims young Betty, who enjoys “DOING things and MAKING things and playing ALL day long!” In polished cartooning by Yan (The Wishing Tree), Betty—portrayed with blond pigtails, pale skin, and big round spectacles—decides she’s watched enough dog-washing at the local pet store to scrub the family’s recalcitrant pug, Frank. Both Betty and Frank get increasingly messy as they tussle in an inflatable pool and Frank knocks into canisters of glitter, but Betty’s pale-skinned, dark-haired best friend Mae is able to peer through the chaos and see a great idea: “a bubble-blowing-dog-running-squeaky-clean-canine-scrubbing... BUSINESS!” Text leans heavily into positive messaging (“You have to focus to finish”) and wordplay (“When we pool our ideas, we can do anything!” says Betty, pushing the pool into place). It may test some readers’ tolerance for perkiness, but it’s an earnest and unabashed celebration of youthful entrepreneurial zeal that feels very of the moment. Ages 3–7. Author’s agent: Cait Hoyt, CAA. Illustrator’s agent: Christy Ewers, CAT Agency. (Oct.)