cover image Next to You: A Book of Adorableness

Next to You: A Book of Adorableness

Lori Haskins Houran, illus. by Sydney Hanson. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8075-5600-9

Readers in need of a little flattery will have no trouble finding it as Houran’s unseen narrator insists that a parade of increasingly adorable animals is nothing compared to a certain young human. “Next to you,” she begins, “the softest puppy in the world is only kind of cute.... A squirrel eating a doughnut with his tiny hands? Adorable, sure. But next to you? Meh. Just OK.” Hanson (D Is for Duck Calls) doesn’t drop the ball on her end—her impossibly fuzzy ducklings, wobbly-legged fawns, and baby bunnies with eyes as big as their ears set a high bar for cuteness. (They also create a bit of a Golden Books feel, fitting given Houran’s former role as editorial director of that imprint.) Is there such a thing as cute overload? Maybe. As unequivocally cuddly as these animals are, the conceit starts to drag after a while. But Houran’s irreverent tone and some clever details like an opening page where gift-givers can write the name of their favorite child, “who is just the cutest,” get the job done. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Justin Rucker, Shannon Associates. (Mar.)