cover image PEA POD BABIES


Karen Baicker, , illus. by Sam Williams. . Handprint, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-59354-003-6

The team that introduced the pea pod babies in a cameo appearance in Tumble Me Tumbily here casts the spotlight on the trio of adorable infants. Sweet Pea, Snap Pea and Snow Pea grow tired of hearing that they're "perfect peas in a pod!" (although that is an accurate description of their horticultural home). "Mama and all her garden friends/ cootchie-coo them to no end./ .../ But anyone can plainly see/ that they're as different as can be!" When the avocado, celery and tomato vines subject the three to the indignity of wearing goofy, oversize matching caps (their faces may be swallowed up by ruffles, but the recipients' feelings shine through in vinegary body language), the babies decide to assert their individuality and explore the world solo. Up to this point, the sunny playfulness of Williams's large-scale watercolors and the babies' undeniable adorableness buoy the story, and even the text hints at something more exciting to come. But the preciousness only multiplies when the spreads split into horizontal thirds to chronicle their separate adventures. The combination of the twee visual scale, and the storytelling's relentless cuteness ("Just look at that silly tot,/ Now Snow Pea's/ in the turnip pot./ What does he see?/ It's a furry brown bunny/ Hop along after him. Isn't he funny?") sink the book into the insipidness it had so successfully skirted. Ages 6 mos.-4 yrs. (Dec.)