cover image Loretta’s Gift

Loretta’s Gift

Pat Zietlow Miller, illus. by Alea Marley. Little Bee, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4998-0681-6

Loretta’s aunt and uncle are having a baby, and while Loretta isn’t clear on all the details (“Loretta looked at Aunt Esme’s belly. Could it hold all that and a baby?”), she sees that everyone has something to give the new arrival, and she wants in on the action. But without money (“Her penny collection wasn’t enough”) or adult motor skills (Mom knits baby caps, Uncle Jax assembles the cradle), what can a kid do? Eventually, she discovers that being an eager helper and enthusiastic cousin—organizing little Gabe’s hats, feeding him mashed bananas, cooing “Who’s the best baby on the block?”—makes her, in Aunt Esme’s words, “the best gift Gabe ever got.” Miller (Be Kind) and debut artist Marley’s straightforward, mostly unsentimental treatment and diverse cast (Loretta, her parents, and Aunt Esme are brown skinned; Uncle Jax is white) make a familiar story feel fresh as it focuses wholly on how even the smallest members of a family can take on more mature roles. Ages 3–6. [em](Aug.) [/em]