Inspired by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a lullaby of love from the mother to the rumbustious child.
Adderson gets similarly emotional with her counting of the ways, from the moment she gathers steam—“Two, your eyes, / googly, bright”—to the rapture of “Seven has to be / your elbows and knees, / dimpled and scaly, / more places to kiss!” But there are clues that this is no gushfest. “Eight is your sturdy hump, / small now, but it will be big”; the green-pajama–clad is playing at being a dragon. The sudden shifts in tone—a swooning “so perfect!” to the ridiculous “your chins are Four. / Four chins!”—allow the mother’s unconditional love to range freely. Leist’s artwork has the clear lines of a hand drawing and the muted, pastel shimmer of a light silk screen. The colors often bleed beyond their borders, lending a dreamy quality to the proceedings, and a company of small details—a peekaboo cat that looks like an owl, a host of Band-Aids covering elbows and knees, and, count ’em, four chins indeed above a “drum-tum tummy”—slow the free-verse poem’s momentum and introduce the possible notion of day’s end.
A tad gooey, but with enough googly to tame the treacle factor. (Picture book. 2-5)