cover image My Own Big Bed

My Own Big Bed

Anna Grossnickle Hines. Greenwillow Books, $17.99 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15599-5

Hines (When We Married Gary) faultlessly portrays the ambivalence of a toddler when she moves from her crib to a big bed. A new big bed of her own is both exciting and scary for this girl narrator, but in confronting her fears, she also discovers inner reserves of self-reliance: ""I can get in, and I can get out--in and out all by myself. What if I fall out? I can fix that."" Watson (The Market Lady and the Mango Tree) shows the girl's resourceful solution: her teddy bear and stuffed alligator lounge comfortably atop a raft of pillows surrounding the bed, and demonstrate that any accidental fall will be amply cushioned. As the protagonist tries out her newfound space--""I can stretch and stretch and not touch anything, not anything""--she wonders, ""What if I get lonely?"" So she assembles a collection of appealing dolls and plush animals to keep herself company. And in the final spreads, Daddy and Mommy come, not to assuage her fears, all of which she's handily put to rest, but to read a bedtime story and deliver goodnight kisses. This rite of passage is astutely and economically observed, without lapsing into preachiness or preciousness. Watson's combination of neatly framed vignettes and full-bleed spreads makes skillful use of painterly realism. The brown-eyed, blonde-haired heroine is engaging and playful, and will likely inspire other toddlers to follow her example. Ages 4-up. (Oct.)