cover image If I Could: A Mother's Promise

If I Could: A Mother's Promise

Susan Milord, , illus. by Christopher Denise. . Candlewick, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2348-7

A raccoon mother shepherds her toddler son through his daily routine, all the while expounding upon how she'd like to make the world even more wonderful for her beloved child. Although it may seem cantankerous to hold maternal sentiments to the highest standards of logic, some of this mother's musings seem off-kilter: “If I could, I'd rouse the sun/and make it shine/ till day is done,” she declares—but the sun already does that anyway without Mom. It's a good thing, then, that Denise's (illustrator of the Redwall picture books) acrylic-and-charcoal vignettes possess such emotional vividness; they're a warm, more traditional relative of the work of Lynn Munsinger. Any quibbles with the text soon fade in the face of scenes like the one in which the mother raccoon takes a moment from preparing dinner to gaze with quiet adoration at her plump, furry offspring, who's happily banging away on a toy xylophone before an audience of old-fashioned stuffed toys. And the tiny verbal surprise at the end leaves parent and child readers basking in tenderness. Ages 2-6. (Apr.)