cover image Maia and the Monster Baby

Maia and the Monster Baby

Elizabeth Winthrop, illus. by Amanda Haley. Holiday House, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-2518-1

Maia, a bespectacled brunette girl, and her furry, purple friend, Monster, who visits at night, are both about to become big sisters, and neither one of them is happy about it. “I like things just the way they are,” says Maia. “Me, too,” says Monster. But when the two friends get together with their new infant sisters, they discover that they are actually quite skilled at turning howling babies into delighted ones: Maia rocks, tickles, and reads to Monster’s baby sister, while Monster does somersaults and makes goofy faces for Maia’s. Winthrop (The Biggest Parade) and Haley (Reading to Peanut) serve up two winning female characters and a message about friendship and girl power that feels both of-the-moment and deeply empathic. The quietly comedic, matter-of-fact prose is sympathetic to both characters’ considerable intelligence (“My mother says my baby sister is my new best friend,” complains Maia. “We are the friends,” Monster replies. “They are the babies”), while giving readers room to savor Haley’s expansive, cheerily colored scenes that exude a sense of nighttime magic. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)