cover image GEORGE SPEAKS


Dick King-Smith, , illus. by Judy Brown. . Millbrook/Roaring Brook, $14.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-7613-1544-5

King-Smith provides frothy fun with this blithe tale about a precocious baby. Four-week-old George shocks his sister, seven-year-old Laura, when he begins to converse in full sentences. George convinces his sibling to keep his gift a secret from their parents, particularly after a tentative test ("Yes, Mommy," he says at six weeks) produces full-blown shock and the couple threatens to call a doctor ("We're going to have to slow things down a bit. That's the trouble with grown-ups—something out of the ordinary happens and they panic. Children are so much more sensible," George tells Laura). Meanwhile, Laura finds it's useful having someone to help her with her multiplication tables (her brother knows them all). Eventually, George finds a way to wean his baffled parents from their incessant baby talk, and they soon grow accustomed to his abilities. When he requests an encyclopedia for his first birthday, "They did not even flinch." King-Smith mines his entertaining premise, delivering a steady stream of droll observations and snappy comebacks (" 'But George,' said Laura, 'how do you know the English language?' 'Well, I'm English, aren't I?' "). Brown's impish line drawings of the round-headed family provide the icing on the (birthday) cake, as all of the one-year-old's party guests gape in wide-eyed wonder. Beginning readers will eat it up. Ages 7-9. (Apr.)