What could possibly be more adorable than lots of fuzzy baby animals with biiig dark eyes, stubby little legs (oooh), and waggy tails (awww)? Take a guess.
Redeemed from Joan Walsh Anglund–style saccharinity by its playful tone, the narrative weighs a succession of stereotypically cute, small creatures against a never-seen “you” and finds them wanting. “Two kittens with a ball of yarn? / A line of fuzzy yellow ducklings? // A squirrel eating a doughnut with his tiny hands? / Adorable, sure. But next to you? Meh.” Hanson follows suit in her bright illustrations, the roly-poly darlings in her bright illustrations placed on white space for maximum focus. They sport oversized heads with fetching smiles and wide, slightly crossed eyes—hard but not, with a little effort, impossible to resist. The appearance of a newborn giraffe (“SO. UNBELIEVABLY. SWEET”) brings a suspenseful moment of weakness, but “No! NO WAY! They are NOT as adorable as you. Not NEARLY.” Whew! “Next to you, even a baby seal doesn’t stand a chance,” Houran concludes. “And you know what? I’m happy to be…next to you.” All those baby animals sleeping together in a heap at the end amount to nothing less than a nearly lethal overdose of cuteness.
A refreshing alternative to hypersentimental entries in the “I love you more than anything!” genre: sincere without being goopy. (Picture book. 2-5)