cover image Leyla


Galia Bernstein. Abrams, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-3543-1

Bernstein (I Am a Cat) offers another taut and snappy animal story illustrated with correspondingly spare yet emotive pictures. Inspired by the author’s observation of hamadryas baboons, who live in boisterous, close-knit troops, the book introduces a young monkey who has two parents, nine aunts, and 23 cousins, a tally Leyla deems “too many!” Feeling suffocated by her relatives’ incessant hugging and kissing (“Yuck!”) and their insistence on grooming her (“She’s not even dirty!”), Leyla runs away to a quiet spot inhabited by a sole, placid lizard. The lizard is “very busy doing nothing” and teaches the baboon how to do the same. When she realizes that she misses her family, Leyla takes leave of her new friend, who says that she can “come back and do nothing” anytime (“I’m always around”). Thrilled to see her, the clan listens to Leyla’s dramatic account of her adventure, and she gains a new appreciation for their kisses and cuddles. Bernstein’s digital and hand-textured art features comically fluctuating facial expressions amid loose lines and earth tones and effectively fuses cartoon and realistic sensibilities. A warm and witty celebration of family, individuality, and introspection. Ages 4–8. Agent: Anne Moore Armstrong, the Bright Agency. [em](May) [/em]