cover image Baby Shower

Baby Shower

Jane Breskin Zalben, . . Roaring Brook/Porter, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-465-3

Zalben doesn't leave much to readers' imagination in this meticulously inked but rather woolly tale of wish fulfillment. Zoe wants a pet: “She'd stare at dogs on street corners, cats curled up in windows, and squirrels in the garden.” Her yearnings conflate with her anticipation of an aunt's upcoming baby shower, producing the book's centerpiece, an eight-page dream about a downpour consisting entirely of adorable animal babies: “Rabbits rained on rooftops. Lambs lolled on lawns. Turtles tangled traffic!” Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs it ain't: the watercolors are pretty, but a teensy-weensy sense of scale makes the images feel overworked and visually befuddling—even young eyes may need to squint. All the loose ends are tied up in short order: the shower is a success and following a thunderstorm, a stray puppy suddenly appears at her aunt's house, ready to be adopted. Zalben (Brenda Berman, Wedding Expert ) gets in some great lines—in answer to the question of whether the baby is a boy or a girl, Zoe's aunt answers, “I hope so”—but the deus ex machina ending is unsatisfying. Ages 3–7. (Mar.)