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Review: New picture books from Kate Beaton, Jennifer Lanthier and Isabelle Malenfant Add to ...

King Baby

By Kate Beaton

Scholastic, 40 pages, $22.99

Infants don’t have a lot of autonomy, but they do have a lot of power. People worship babies, coo over babies, drive over in rush-hour traffic to see the baby. And all the baby has to do to stop a room and command attention is shriek at the top of its little baby lungs. Beaton’s book is narrated by one regal little baby, looking more as if he were a haughty potato then a tiny human. “You will have wiggles and gurgles and coos!” King Baby proclaims, dressed like a teeny tiny teddy bear. A lot of humour is derived from this tiny lump wielding control over his desperate subjects, as anyone who has been in a room with a crying infant while suspecting them of Machiavellian tendencies can relate. This might particularly endear itself to older siblings who are frustrated with a newborn child hogging all the attention.

Ocean Animals From Head To Tail

By Stacey Roderick and Kwanchai Moriya

Kids Can Press, 36 pages, $18.95

Which ocean animal has eyes the size of soccer balls? Which one has tentacles filled with venom? Every other page in this book has a closeup of an animal and invites the reader to guess what it is. Flip the page and the illustrations zoom out, showing the underwater creature in its habitat with a page full of facts. Some of the animals are easy to guess (sea turtle represent!), others less so (I still can’t even spell anemone without looking it up). It’s a good introduction for curious young minds about the goofy and ferocious (and sometimes both!) creatures that live in the sea, along with “did you know?” style facts designed to blow young minds. The illustrations, though done in Photoshop, are rendered to look as if they are cut-and-paste collages, making the whole book read as if it’s a very well done craft project.

Hurry Up Henry

By Jennifer Lanthier, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant

Puffin Canada, 32 pages, $21.99

Henry is a boy who likes to take his time. He meanders, he strolls, he stops to smell the flowers quite literally. He is fascinated by everything in his path and sees things that other people tend to miss. This would all be fine and good, except Henry has a terrible habit of being late, no matter where he goes. He drives his friends and family crazy as they are forced to rush him along. Henry feels bad about making people late, but he doesn’t want to rush through life and let it pass him by either. For his birthday, his best friend and grandmother come up with a plan to help Henry get the best of both worlds. Malenfant’s dreamy pastel illustrations help bring Henry’s contemplative world to life; never has an army of ants on the sidewalk looked so captivating. While the book has a few lessons to be learned about being on time, never does it judge Henry’s curious worldview.

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