cover image BABY FOR SALE


Jackie French Koller, , illus. by Janet Pedersen. . Cavendish, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7614-5106-8

When his one-year-old sister throws his favorite baseball cap in the toilet, it's the last straw for Peter the rabbit, and he decides to put Emily up for sale. But nobody needs a baby, even though he keeps changing his sales pitch. "Her skin is soft as a rose," he tells Mrs. LaPlante the gardener. "When you tickle her tummy, she makes a happy sound," he tells Mr. Diaz the antique dealer. But when Emily toddles toward an oncoming car, Peter has a revelation: she needs him. The volume is heavy on text, but Koller (Someday) characterizes Peter as an earnest, likable fellow, especially between the attempted transactions, when he tries to keep Emily in check ("No more pooping!" he says after yet another deal fails to go through) and he succumbs to her charms in spite of himself. But overall, the book feels distant and uninspired. Pedersen (Mildred and Ed) frames virtually all her watercolors from the same head-on perspective, so that the pictures' geniality quickly turns innocuous, and Peter's evolving emotional state—not to mention Emily's life-threatening encounter with traffic—is drained of visual drama. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)