cover image Beastly Babies

Beastly Babies

Ellen Jackson, illus. by Brendan Wenzel. S&S/Beach Lane, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4424-0834-0

In this survey of animal offspring whose habitats range from the backyard to polar regions and the savannah, Wenzel (Some Bugs) wrangles species into wonderfully improbable compositions (a quail family dances in the spray from a baby’s whale’s spout, while a little dromedary mischievous spits on the whale’s nose) and vivid single-animal vignettes (a baby tiger goes on a hunt with its mother, but can’t even catch her tail let alone dinner). The visual magic of these pictures has two sources: the range of materials he employs and the animals’ intense, wide-eyed gazes, which bring to mind Sumerian temple figures and give even the tiniest critter a powerful emotional presence. Hopscotching over the messes animal babies tend to make and the ways they misbehave, Jackson’s (Tooling Around) brief rhymes can be innocuous (“Making mischief,/ having fun,/ each is precious,/ every one”), but they also have an infectious rhythm, and they get an additional goose of energy from the book’s quirky typography. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Kendra Marcus, BookStop Literary Agency. (July)