Rosemary Wells, . . Viking, $14.99 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-670-03634-9
In this brief but instructive picture book (produced in partnership with Jumpstart, an early-education organization), Max and Ruby creator Wells once again demonstrates her talent for simple stories that mirror the joys and emotional undercurrents of childhood. Here, she takes on the voice of a bear cub whose mother is the adored sun to his moon, with words that echo the 1950s hit ("Only you... can make my dreams come true"; "Only you... can make my gray skies blue"). Together they cook, paint, dance and play with blocks. These everyday activities will feel happily familiar to young readers; the book's pastel block-patterned borders, softly framing the illustrations, and the mother bear's warm, solid bulk underscore the reassuring tone. Wells also aims the story at parents, gently reminding them of their loving responsibilities. For instance, in response to a frustrating toddler mishap ("Over goes your coffee cup..."), the mother bear reacts calmly ("but you laugh and pick it up/ Only you). Even the endpapers—telling parents to "fill every day of your child's year with lots of time together"—list what's important, from praise to kisses and hugs. In a square trim just right for smallest hands, Wells's latest title successfully models parent-child interactions with a loving message to attract readers young and old. Ages 6 mos.-5 yrs.
Reviewed on: 05/12/2003