cover image Just Like a Baby

Just Like a Baby

Juanita Havill, , illus. by Christine Davenier. . Chronicle, $15.99 (22pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-5026-1

The collaborators behind I Heard It from Alice Zucchini offer a warmhearted story about a family with big plans for a little newborn. Davenier's luminous watercolors and vivid characterizations are the main draw; she portrays a large, loving and highly expressive family that can't help projecting their identities onto their newest member. Among those cooing and making goo-goo eyes at the bassinette are Uncle Tony, who thinks baby Ellen is certain to be a pilot (“soaring, coasting, loop-de-looping, like me”), and Aunt Rachel, an academic, who declares that Ellen will “master Sanskrit and Javascript, Greek and Chinese, ponder scrolls and Web sites, just like me.” Ellen, who isn't revealed until the final page, finally asserts herself with “an earth-shaking howl, a cloud-ruffling yowl, a listen-to-me-I'm a-baby squall.” Although this book won't help ease nascent sibling rivalry—what kid wants to be reminded that everyone's attention is focused on the new arrival?—the gentle joke at the expense of the silly relatives should go over well. Ages 6 mos.–3 yrs. (Apr.)