Because You Are My Baby
Jennifer Ward. Rising Moon Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-87358-911-6
Outside the cozy desert home of a human mother and her baby, Ward (Way Up In the Arctic) and Long (A Seed Is Sleepy) visit 12 mothers and babies in the wild to celebrate a universal truth: whether Mom is a coyote, hummingbird or human, she's dedicated to feeding, protecting, teaching and frolicking with her beloved little ones for the titular reason. Ward's tender couplets offer species-specific expressions of this devotion, but Long often pairs the sentiments with a recognizably human item, emphasizing the idea of maternal devotion across nature. (For instance, a baby bottle sits beside text reading, ""I'll show you flowers soft and sweet,/ so you will know just where to eat,"" opposite a picture of two hummingbirds feeding from an orange lily.) Long, whose sense of color, contrast and line brings to mind the work of Walter Crane, is particularly effective in her single-page images. In one stunner, a dazzlingly dappled roadrunner gives her baby a loving peck, their green-tinted tail feathers stretching out into the white border. These gloriously rendered desert species are not identified, which may frustrate young readers (and parents) who are unfamiliar with them. But that's a minor quibble in an otherwise welcome addition to the bedtime shelf. Ages 4-8.
Reviewed on: 10/22/2007