cover image OCEAN BABIES


Deborah Lee Rose, , illus. by Hiroe Nakata. . National Geographic, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7922-6669-3

Roscoe (Into the A, B, Sea ) and Nakata (Tell Me My Story, Mama ) gracefully blend verité with impressionism as they literally immerse readers in the concept of the ocean as nursery. Roscoe's text takes on a gentle, rocking tone as she compares and contrasts the many kinds of aquatic offspring. For a series of spreads that uses a sea lion pup, a host of red crabs, dolphins and sea horses as examples, she writes, "One by one, and in huge bunches,/ they wriggle and spurt from their mother's body—/ or their father's!" The lightheartedness and luminescent colors of Nakata's artwork synchronize swimmingly with the mood of the text—whatever she paints seems to dance on the page. Like Roscoe, Nakata doesn't overly anthropomorphize the babies and their families, but their smiles are readily recognizable (the sockeye salmon's toothy grin is a hoot), and she demonstrates that hanging out with Mom (or Dad, in the case of the sea horse) is a universal joy. Four pages of notes provide a short, informative addendum to the text (the exegesis of the line "Some change homes like you change clothes" discusses hermit crabs and their symbiotic relationship to the anemones that "decorate" their appropriated shells). Those for whom babyhood is not such a distant memory will want to dive in many times. Ages 4-8. (May)