cover image Bertie and Small and the Brave Sea Journey

Bertie and Small and the Brave Sea Journey

Vanessa Cabban, Vanessa Caban. Candlewick Press (MA), $12.99 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0878-1

In Cabban's first children's books, two simple, gentle stories evoke a child's resourcefulness and creativity. The disarming toddler and plush bunny who star in these books bear a humorous resemblance to each other. Bertie--in a one-piece powder-blue outfit topped off by a hood with bunny ears--has the awkward floppiness and mild smile of Small, the stuffed animal. In the first book, the pair sets out on Bertie's fast bike to tour the world; they cross the ""desert"" (a patch of sand) and circle a ""mountain"" (a mound of dirt). When Bertie and Small and the family dachshund take their found ""treasure"" (pebbles and dandelions) back to Mommy, their sense of mission and importance is palpable. In the second book, the duo shows no fear: when Daddy helps Bertie and Small sail in their boat (fashioned from a box), ""They say Boo! to the crocodile and Shoo! to the sharks."" Cabban's admirable skill at capturing how toddlers bend, reach and walk helps keep Bertie's cuteness balanced with realism. These quiet, cozy books are just right for winding down after an ever-so-busy toddler day. Ages 2-4. (Sept.)