You've got the cutest little baby-face! So say all the mothers to their offspring in this book about faces. Of all the insects, reptiles, birds, and mammals in this book, one of the strangest baby faces is the three-horned, swivel-eyed chameleon. But a human baby face probably looks pretty strange to a chameleon! Some, like the young sphinx moth caterpillar, disguise their face by wearing a scary mask on their tail. Unfortunately, some of these odd-looking babies are so cute (in their own special way) you might disagree with the title... that their faces are ones only a mother could love. Warm, softly colored, and beautifully detailed pencil drawings give a close-up look at these unusual baby faces.
Gr 2-4-Dewey examines 16 mother and child relationships within the animal kingdom, including humans. The animals selected vary inexplicably from very specific (Jackson's chameleon) to very general (frogs). The lifeless writing is hardly more than a series of facts about each creature loosely strung together. Wording is often misleading. Sometimes, the information is plainly incorrect: "The face visible on the brown sphinx moth caterpillar is a pretend face. The real face is at the other end of the caterpillar's body." In fact, both faces are visible (one has to look a little closer to see the real one). But more importantly, both are at the same end of the caterpillar. The colored-pencil illustrations are flat as well, often contradicting the text. Readers are told that a baby rhino does not have a horn, yet both the large and small rhinos depicted are horned. Most of the drawings are of an adult female and her offspring. However, the entry for the sphinx moth caterpillar shows a juvenile form but not an adult moth while the entry for the paper wasp neglects the larvae but shows the adult wasp, albeit with a few eggs. Indeed, the text states that some animals like the frog and hognose snake will never see their babies, leaving one wondering about the whole premise of the book.Lisa Wu Stowe, Great Neck Library, NY
Dewey uses the lumpy, bumpy, and crinkly faces of baby animals to show that babies are not necessarily beautiful. Her colored-pencil illustrations catch each baby looking, if not beautiful, at least comical or lovable. Dewey has purposefully chosen animals rarely found in picture books--among them, sloths, hognose snakes, and giant anteaters--and gives brief information about the care of each as it comes into the world. She concludes with a picture of a human mother and baby, reinforcing the idea that humans are part of the animal world. Although this is a good introduction to some of nature's more unusual creatures, its use may be limited because it's too long for story time and too short for reports.