Cumulative verse and bold art define this picture book.
The eponymous baby is a gorilla awoken from slumbering in a nest, and opening singsong lines say it is “smelly and yelly / and all forlorn,” but the accompanying art doesn’t seem to quite capture this mood. The little one’s facial expression reads as startled, and then, after the page turn, the perspective zooms out away from the nest to depict the noisy, yawning hippo that woke the baby. Ensuing spreads show the events that precipitated the hippo’s “yawn like a horn” in rhyming, cumulative verse that will be a hit at storytime as it begs for readers to fill in line endings. Bold watercolor-and-ink illustrations inject humor into the story as one animal after another is revealed as causing a disturbance. Ultimately, readers find out that it was a butterfly that startled a bee to set off the chain of events. In a happy ending, it is also the butterfly that cheers the baby up. The impact of the story would be greater if the pictures of the gorilla showed a nuanced emotional shift instead of taking it from startled to playful. The visual highlight instead is the artistic balance between ample white space to hold the text and the vibrant art.
A playful anti-bedtime book—and a whimsically literal introduction to the “butterfly effect.” (Picture book. 3-5)