cover image Tumbleweed Baby

Tumbleweed Baby

Anna Myers, illus by Charles Vess. Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-1232-6

In her first picture book, Myers (Time of the Witches) introduces the hardscrabble Upagainstit family and their foundling child. In pencil-and-ink drawings of drought-ridden Texas landscapes, Vess (Blueberry Girl) pictures the father, mother, and children as sharecroppers in an earth-colored farmhouse. When the five siblings find a baby in a tumbleweed and debate whether to keep her, one child disapproves: “ ‘She’s a wild-all-over baby,’ said the littlest-of-all girl. ‘Put her back.’ ” They take her home anyway, only to find that the long-haired, naked Tumbleweed Baby revolts in the bathtub, flings food, and makes “a terrible ruckus.” Nevertheless, everyone but the youngest girl wants to give her a chance. Myers eases readers through the folksy story, repeating evocative names and phrases. She reveals the reason for the littlest girl’s resistance only on the last page, ending on a piquant surprise note. Vess’s child characters are awkwardly proportioned, and the baby’s size varies dramatically, yet images of dirt fields and blue skies capture the aura of mystery and hopefulness of this strange country tale. Ages 4–6. Author’s agent: Victoria Marini, Gelfman Schneider. Illustrator’s agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Oct.)