cover image Cowboy Baby

Cowboy Baby

Sue Heap. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0437-0

Before Cowboy Baby goes to bed, he has to round up Texas Ted, Denver Dog and the other toy animals in his posse. ""Off you go to find them,' said Sheriff Pa. `Bring them home safely.' "" Cowboy Baby waddles outdoors, into a desert landscape of blue sky, faraway buttes and golden sand. After he collects each of his friends, Cowboy Baby hides with them from Sheriff Pa, who eventually ropes in his caballero with some fatherly sleight-of-hand. The book's 10""x12"" trim size conveys a don't-fence-me-in spaciousness, and Heap (The Hungry Monster) further suggests the vast terrain with full-bleed spreads, divided into rectangular panels by wide strips of acrylic paint in sultry southwestern colors. Yet Cowboy Baby never wanders too far from home, and, except in extreme close-ups, the cabin and Sheriff Pa are in plain sight. Heap nimbly enters into a toddler's sense of play, and while Cowboy Baby may live in the Wild West, his mischievous games will be familiar to readers in any region. Ages 2-5. (Apr.)