cover image I LOVE MY MAMA


Peter Kavanagh, , illus. by Jane Chapman. . S&S, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-85691-4

The mama of the title is an elephant, and over the course of a day in the savanna, her baby exudes the contentment and security that come from being in her super-size company. This British team leaves no doubt as to the rapport between parent and child: splashing in a pond, their glee is utterly mutual, and when they face off, Kavanagh (The Little Prince and the Great Dragon) writes: "Sometimes we laugh for no reason at all,/ comparing our trunks, one big, one small." Unfortunately, the text seldom rises above lackluster rhymes and obviousness ("We gaze at the birds flying into the night/ and the stars in the sky, all twinkly and bright"). Chapman is more consistently successful, although readers expecting the same level of comic joie de vivre of her Bear Snores On will find her work tamer here. With the languid setting and the story's lack of dramatic tension, most of the pictures are studies in placid satisfaction. But Chapman playfully contrasts the difference in the elephants' sizes—in the final spread, for example, the baby sleeps between the mother's redwood-like legs—and there's an affecting poignancy whenever the animals exchange looks with their gentle black eyes. Ages 1-5. (Apr.)