cover image Seven Hungry Babies

Seven Hungry Babies

Candace Fleming, illus. by Eugene Yelchin, S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4169-5402-6

Weary mothers will identify with the beleaguered heroine in this counting book far more than young readers will identify with Mama Bird's demanding children. "Feed us! Feed us!" the newly hatched babies screech, as Mama Bird showers them with mawkish endearments before flying off to find them food. "Of course, my precious cuddle fluffs," she coos. "Yes, yes, my noisy warble pies." Fleming (Imogene's Last Stand) ratchets up the careworn mother's tone to comic effect as Mama Bird becomes increasingly stressed and bedraggled, bringing back a minnow, a peapod, and other items for the babies, who drop off to sleep one by one. Yelchin's (Heart of a Snowman) humorous gouache paintings depict Mama Bird's increasing distress as she staggers back to the nest again and again, while simultaneously conveying the babies' insatiable urgency. Finally, when all seven yellow babies are asleep, Mama Bird sprawls out on a nearby branch to rest, but a page turn reveals the babies peeping again. " ‘Oh, no, not this time,' Mama chirps," as she deftly passes the buck: "It's Daddy's turn to fly." Ages 3–7. (Mar.)