cover image The Baby in the Hat

The Baby in the Hat

Allan Ahlberg, , illus. by André Amstutz. . Candlewick, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-3958-7

Ahlberg and Amstutz (previously paired for The Shopping Expedition ) overlook few opportunities for humor in this tall tale (even the copyright includes jokes), which gains extra punch from the narrator's repeated insistence that the story is a true one. Devolving in an antique English setting, the action begins as a beribboned and bonneted baby falls from a window; the narrator's best friend catches her in his hat and receives a reward from her parents. Witty, detailed gouaches dotted with dialogue balloons lend a theatricality to the picaresque tale, as the baby catcher uses his reward money to travel to London, where he falls off London Bridge and lands in a ship, the beginning of a successful naval career. As if these preposterous coincidences are not enough, Amstutz further emphasizes the accidental nature of good fortune by providing plenty of visual subplots. Author and artist bring the story back to its beginnings for a satisfying, full-bodied conclusion. Ages 2–5. (Nov.)