cover image Bubba and Trixie

Bubba and Trixie

Lisa Campbell Ernst. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81357-3

Ernst (Ginger Jumps) turns out a syrupy story with an obvious and sententious ending. Until he meets Trixie, a ladybug who can't fly, timid caterpillar Bubba refuses to venture beyond the parsley plant where he was born and suffers from low self-esteem (""I'm uglier than a clod of dirt and twice as clumsy""). But after Trixie shows him how to have a dandy time in the garden, Bubba decides that being a caterpillar is ""grand"" and wants nothing to change, especially not his friendship with Trixie. When Bubba emerges from his cocoon, Trixie is right there to assure him it's OK to be a butterfly, for ""What's important is all on the inside, and that never changes. We will always be friends."" Even the sleepiest young listeners won't miss Ernst's cloyingly delivered if valid message at the end of this overlong, text-heavy tale. Offering large-scale images of her guileless, wide-eyed protagonists, Ernst's pastel, ink and pencil art is as precious as the narrative. Yet her cheery, colorful garden backdrop is a welcome respite for the eye and clocks the change in seasons. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)