cover image So Much

So Much

Trish Cooke. Candlewick Press (MA), $16.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-344-5

A baby boy is showered with love from his relatives as the clan gathers for a celebration in this exuberant picture book. The baby waits at the window with Mom, not ``doing anything... nothing really,'' when, one by one, family members ring the doorbell and make a grand entrance. Auntie Bibba wants to squeeze the baby, Uncle Didi wants to kiss him, Nannie and Gran-Gran want to eat him and the baby's cousins want to fight him-all because they love him SO much. Once the house is ``full, full, full,'' Dad walks in-and gets a real surprise. Cooke's (When I Grow Bigger) bubbly language works perfectly with her cumulative structure to take full advantage of the excitement and suspense of each new arrival. She also occasionally adopts African American dialect (``He flip-flap him over till he nearly drop him''), which may prove to be a slight stumbling block for some. Vibrant gouache paintings capture all the warmth of this close-knit group and realistic details of their clothes and mannerisms give the characters added life. Oxenbury (We're Going on a Bear Hunt) balances bold full-page portraits with transitional black-and-white spot art, modulating the flow of the joyous proceedings. Ages 3-up. (Nov.)