cover image Humphrey & Ralph

Humphrey & Ralph

Katharine Andres. Simon & Schuster, $14 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-671-88129-0

Another story of sibling jealousy: big brother Ralph resents the new baby, Humphrey, and can't quite understand the fuss, given that Humphrey doesn't seem able to do much (``Good at sleeping?'' Ralph thinks derisively). And, like so many others, this tale is resolved when the baby wins over his older sibling by a form of flattery; in this case, Humphrey chuckles rather than cries when Ralph falls with him in his arms, and then pronounces his first word, ``'alph.'' Though lacking the originality of Andres's first book (Fish Story), the tale has moments of affection and wit (while visitors coo endlessly over the baby and speculate about which parent he most resembles, Ralph thinks that Humphrey ``didn't look like anyone... more like the picture of the seal in his Baby Mammals book''). Day does not accentuate Andres's imaginative characterizations, however: while the author creates characters who are both recognizable and idiosyncratic, the artist simply moves them into the swelling camp of postmodern chic. Rendering the figures in murky pastels, giving them oddly planed faces and using faux-childlike lines to define their limbs, he limits the story by bringing to it a highly mannered aesthetic. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)