cover image TEN


Vladimir Radunsky, . . Viking, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-03563-2

Having taken a puckish look at Table Manners with Chris Raschka, Radunsky finds a kooky, kicky way of counting to 10 while addressing pregnancy and birth. In effusive language and over-the-moon collages, he presents the love story of Mr. and Mrs. Armadillo, two thick-set creatures attired in sacklike body suits, form-fitting "tail stockings" and striped "ear socks. Always clean. Always in bright colors." (In case anyone objects that these bipeds cannot be real animals, Radunsky pictures a regular armadillo "naked, after taking a bath.") Each spread provides an episode in the newlyweds' fond marriage. They play in the park and ponder names for imaginary offspring, only to be surprised when a four-stage sequence shows Mrs. Armadillo's belly expanding to phenomenal size. "I think I am going to have a baby," she says. "Oh, my," replies her husband. Not one but a bevy of infants arrive, and the overwhelmed couple shrewdly names them "One" through "Ten" (all are olive-green but Six, who's a warm shade of sunset pink). Radunsky depicts the pregnancy with matter-of- factness and fervent optimism. After the birth, delighted relatives come bearing gifts, including a polka-dotted giraffe, plaid elephant and 10 frothy white tutus; practical Grandma brings 10 potties ("What if they all need to go potty at the same time?"). Every breathless chapter proclaims the family "so happy," and the lighthearted images seem to concur. Weightless baby armadillos and calligraphic numerals float about the bright white pages of this endearing book. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)