A winsome picture book created for a baby shower.
Johnson’s short book, brightly illustrated by Captain Cartoon, centers on a young girl named Lilly who, readers are told, isn’t born yet when the book begins. This enigmatic note sets the tone for the pages that follow, which feature all the unintroduced characters and unexplained contexts one might expect in a private family keepsake. Lilly has an older sister named Skylar (“Know whom I love to kiss? Skylar! My big sis!”), a pet cat called Fraidy Cat, a dog called Punkin, a favorite cow named Blossom, a hair-pulling little boy friend named Ollie and a black-cloaked adult nemesis known as Eva (“I shut my eyes tightly when I go to sleep—so I won't see Eva creep!”). They all appear to be based on actual animals and people, imported into these pages as part of an in-joke to which general readers aren’t invited. Luckily, there are plenty of universal scenes of babyhood (crawling, playing, eating in a highchair, baby food, thumb-sucking) and plenty of harmless fantasies (driving a car, learning karate, riding on a roller coaster) to round out what would otherwise be more like one family’s photo album. The pages are brightly rendered, and each is bordered by multicolored stars and the trademarked logo of the author’s “Starlette Universe.” Throughout, the book depicts little Lilly with a baby’s body but a preteen girl’s head, complete with long flowing blonde hair, long black eyelashes, and beauty-contest rouge-red cheeks, and portrays her as being fond of toys, clothes and candy. The atmosphere is cheery and upbeat (“My life on Earth has gone well since birth!”), with Lilly as a happy, inquisitive, adventurous, stubborn, loving child prone to misadventures and full of love for her animal friends and for Skylar, who resembles her almost exactly. It’s all very accessible, except for the pages that seem aimed at a private audience.
A bright, colorful book about an energetic baby girl.