cover image The Baby Dances

The Baby Dances

Kathy Henderson. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0374-8

""The baby's born./ The baby's born./ In the middle of winter/ and a windy, rattling, late rainstorm/ she has her first warm hug/ in her father's arms..."" So begins this lyrical and visually sumptuous overview of a baby's first year. Henderson (A Year in the City) and Kerins (The Brave Ones) follow the baby girl through the seasons and the major milestones: first smile, rolling over, sitting, crawling. When winter rolls around again, ""she takes her first lurching steps,/ reaches out.../ staggers... prances.../ and safe in her brother's arms,/ the baby dances!"" New parents may well be taken with the romanticized celebration of an infant's changes and growth, while preschoolers can anticipate the changes to come with a new arrival at home. The majority of Kerins's luxuriant, full-bleed pastels focus only on the baby herself; she is bathed in an angelic glow, immaculate, and always cheerful. Meanwhile, her brother, shown interacting with his younger sister in small black-and-white vignettes as sidebars to the main illustrations, displays not a whit of sibling rivalry. Preschool children fascinated by tales of their own development will appreciate this accessible approach to a baby's first stages of growth. Ages 3-6. (June)