cover image Little Monster Did It!

Little Monster Did It!

Helen Cooper. Dial Books, $12.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1993-4

It's a time-honored story of newly minted sibling rivalry, but the clarity of Cooper's (The Bear Under the Stairs) writing, coupled with the rich, pastel-like textures of her watercolors, gives this book a winning warmth. Amy is ambivalent at best about her new baby brother, but there is no doubting how her plush toy named Little Monster feels--he shows his displeasure by putting bagels in the VCR, flooding the bathroom, etc. Finally, Mom seems to win Amy over by pointing to her little brother's vulnerability: ""What would he do without us?"" Mom says. Amy conjures up a vision of the baby adrift at sea; alarmed, she offers to dry his toes as an act of reconciliation. But Cooper knows that children seldom achieve closure all at once; Little Monster has one more act of rebellion in store before understanding that there is room and love enough for everyone. Cooper's text is a marvel of wisdom and balance--she respects Amy's stormy emotions, but tempers them with just the right amount of humor: for example, when Little Monster and Amy are admonished to behave at one point, the heroine tells the reader, ""We ran downstairs and pretended we were orphans."" The cozy, sure-handed illustrations of Amy and her slightly rumpled parents play an equal role in describing the proceedings--and more than a few pictures hint at Little Monster's autonomy, giving the whole story a solid, mischievous tweak. Ages 3-7. (June)