cover image The Baby Swap

The Baby Swap

Jan Ormerod, illus. by Andrew Joyner. S&S/Little Simon, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4814-1914-7

It’s lovely to have one more reminder of the late Ormerod’s talent. Caroline Crocodile deems her baby brother a smelly, “no fun” drooler who “takes up all the room” on Mama Crocodile’s lap. Stuck minding him in the shopping district, she does what any red-blooded, capitalist kid would do: she goes to the “Baby Shop” and tries to trade up. The shopkeeper doesn’t miss a beat and matches Caroline with a series of substitute babies—a panda, an elephant, and twin tigers—all of which prove to be ill-advised (the panda devours a cafe’s bamboo furniture; the elephant breaks the town fountain). It will come as no surprise that Ormerod handles Caroline’s burning jealously and misplaced attempts to steer her own destiny with comedic deftness and emotional acuity, never overplaying her prose or premise. And while Ormerod was a gifted artist, she has a worthy collaborator in Joyner (The Terrible Plop). His composition and pacing feel effortless, and his repertoire of vivid expressions—which include Caroline’s impressive gamut of looks as well as the panda’s funny-creepy unchanging stare—makes every page pretty near perfect. Ages 3–6. (Feb.)