"It's hard to describe the joyfulness, the pure baby exuberance of this sweet, silly story." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
'" "At midnight when absolutely anything can happen," Baby Brenda escapes through the cat door to romp with the other neighborhood babies at hte Midnight Cafe. Baby Brenda and gang tote a "jiggly-joggly treat" in a little wood wagon, only to discover that their destination is already occupied by Baby Mario and his friends. A standoff between Baby Brenda and Baby Mario resolves itself as they "Wibble Wobble" and "Blibble Blobble," sharing their food and dancing until they "All fall down! Phew!" Baby Brenda's nighttime sophistication disappears at breakfast when, like an ordinary baby, she "tips her bowl of cereal over her head — and burrrps!" From the book's insouciant cover art to the showdown at the cafe, James's (Dog In, Cat Out) fun-loving babies are full of verve. Her witty, jewel-toned paintings capture the mood of zestful make-believe, as in the pictures of the babies "play[ing] dress-up with food.": Mario wears cherries as earrings, with a necklace of sausages; Brenda sports a hat made of grapes crowned by a half-peeled banana. But the target audience for Wild's (Old Pig) extended fantasy seems confused. The language is a bit arch in spots...and childish in others... The premise, like that of Nina Laden's The Night I Followed the Dog, has more than enough appeal; whether or not literal-minded toddlers, struggling to separate fact from fantasy, will appreciate its uneven execution here remains in question." Publishers Weekly
"Readers of Nina Laden's The Night I Followed the Dog (1994) and Bruce Ingman's A Night on the Tiles (1999) will readily accept this proposition that babies, too, lead a secret life in the wee hours. Here Baby Brenda rises to raid the refrigerator, then wiggles through the cat door to join her friends at the Midnight Cafe — where a tense encounter with Baby Mario and his buddies dissolves into a messy, joyous melee, thanks to a wagonload of wibbly-wobbly Jell-o. Later tummies full, the stubby revelers wash off under sprinklers and scatter to their homes. James fills her luminous scenes with squads of exhuberant diaper or Doctor-Denton-clad toddlers, along with the occasional dog, and closes with a close-up of carrot-topped Brenda cheerfully upending a bowl of cereal over her head at the breakfast table, to the tune of a resonant belch. Parents and older sibs who wonder why babies get so much more pleasure out of playing with food than eating it will understand at last, thanks to this follow-up to the Midnight Gang (1996)." Kirkus Reviews
At the magic hour, baby Brenda climbs out of bed, heads downstairs to pack some snacks, and wiggles out the cat door for a rendezvous with her diaper-wearing pals and their special surprise, a wagon filled with a Jell-O-like treat. Together, they head to their favorite hangout, the Midnight Cafe, but soon discover that Baby Mario and his friends are already there. At first, the members of the two groups scowl at each other, but the tension quickly dissolves when Baby Mario points to the "jiggly-joggly" mass and asks" Wibble wobble?' Now there are smiles all around as the youngsters dance, feast on fruit and other goodies, and share the treat. After a cleanup under the sprinklers, Baby Brenda bids her friends good-bye and scuttles back to bed. The next morning, she wears a secret smile when her older sister tells her she should eat more breakfast. Done in chalk pastels on colored paper, the vibrant artwork brings this imaginary romp to life. The multiethnic children are clad in a dazzling array of sleep wear and bright white diapers, and these colors glow against the subdued nighttime backdrops. The scenes at the Cafe are filled with energy and motion, as the babies dance and cavort. Peppered with nonsense words and catchy rhymes, the language keeps the story moving quickly. While some literal-minded toddlers will wonder how a baby who is too young to talk can participate in such adventures, others will be swept away by the pure silliness of the situation.
School Library Journal
null Booklist, Editor's Choice