cover image I Hatched!

I Hatched!

Jill Esbaum, illus. by Jen Corace. Dial, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3688-7

“CRACK!” Using its cute little head as a battering ram, a killdeer chick emerges from its egg, and on long spindly legs asserts its bubbly personality: “I’ve studied me, and oh, my word,” writes Esbaum, “I am one amazing bird!” With a “Kil-DEE!/ Kil-DEE!/ Kil-DEE-DEE-DEE!” the bird scoots around its idyllic habitat, literally grabbing lunch with Mama—“Snails and beetles,/ worms (a bunch!)”— and meeting with an even newer-born sister (“Don’t worry, I know EVERYTHING!”). Although the singsong rhyming can veer toward cutesiness, Esbaum (Tom’s Tweet) captures the egocentric worldview and inexhaustible energy of a bird toddler while presenting a refreshingly species-specific narrative. But the real attraction is Corace’s (The Steadfast Tin Soldier) ink, watercolor, and pencil drawings, a nicely calibrated mix of cheery spot illustrations and more theatrical spreads. The hand-drawn lines and appliqué-like use of colors create a rustic, stylized playfulness that invigorates the rural setting, while conveying the sense of a charismatic young hero-in-the-making. Ages 2–4. Author’s agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.)