cover image BEST KIND OF BABY


Kate Laing, , illus. by R.W. Alley. . Dial, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2662-8

Sophie's mother is pregnant—but even though her parents insist that it's going to be "a little baby human child," the precocious, mop-topped preschooler pines for something more exotic—a mouse, a puppy, a monkey or, if she's really lucky, a dolphin. "After it's born," she regales her friend Avery, "we're going to leap through the waves, dive way, way down, and then zoom back up and spray water all over everyone!" The scenarios are so compelling that her friends grow quite envious: "Can I come too?" Avery asks. Laing, in a promising debut, shows good instincts for pushing a comic idea just far enough. Even dubious children will appreciate the vivid goofiness of Sophie's wishful thinking—and they'll also get a giggle from the silly solemnity of the pint-sized discourse ("Is your mommy eating too many sundaes?" inquires one of Sophie's friends. "You're not supposed to have more than five or six a day"). The anxiety underlying Sophie's fantasies is never explicitly referenced, and Alley's warm, slice-of-life watercolors remain upbeat throughout. Yet it's clear that author and illustrator empathize with the girl's struggle and in the end, they grant her at least a partial vindication: her newborn brother, Sophie discovers, does in fact drool like a puppy, kick like a monkey and spit like dolphin. Ages 4-8. (June)