A multiracial cast of self-directing toddlers play, problem-solve, share snacks, and yes, cry over spilt milk without any apparent adult intervention or assistance.
Grown-ups are featured only as they drop the kids off or pick them up. The rhyming text follows tots Bee (a little black girl) and Billy (a little white boy) through various crises along with the other denizens of this diaper derby. “Someone’s got the tractor, / It’s little Baby Boo! / Bee shouts, / ‘MINE!’ / Then Baby cries, / Baby wants it, / too.” The verses’ length vary from a compact four-line stanza to a monumental 13-line opus. Some rhymes just beg to be read aloud with a mouth full of crackers. “Baby’s giggly, / smiley, dribbly, / Happy once again.” Tobia’s illustrations, created with pencil, ink, and digital media, are warmly and loudly evocative of fellow Briton Helen Oxenbury’s board books. The faces are round, the fingers are chubby, and the pajama-clad bottoms are amply padded. Bright colors enliven each boisterous scene. As an introduction to the nursery school/day care experience, Hart’s unnecessarily wordy story wades in midstream. As the children appear to know the routine as soon as they cross the threshold despite Billy’s moment of shyness, this assumes readers do, too.
As an aid to teach empathy and cooperation to the under-4 set, this is an excellent addition to a parent or caregiver’s bookshelf. (Picture book. 2-4)