Babies can be so irksome, according to How to Be a Baby ... By Me, the Big Sister (Schwartz & Wade/Random House, $15.99; for ages 4 to 8). In smarty-pants fashion, with devastating details, Big Sis lists all of the baby's failings, including: "When you're a baby, you don't read books. You eat them." Babies sing, but they don't know the words (much less the tune). They're scared of Grandma's black shoes, not to mention their own potties. They have to sit in a car seat facing the wrong way! Sally Lloyd-Jones, with help from Sue Heap's cheery illustrations, evokes genuine giggles - and then smiles, as Big Sister finally (and realistically) comes around.
The Incredible Book-Eating Boy provides an incredibly entertaining yarn for lovers of books (Philomel/Penguin, $16.99; for ages 4 to 8). What happens when you eat a word, then a sentence, then a whole page? Is it possible to miss the whole point of books? Oliver Jeffers creates a quirky story, as well as distinctive art painted and penciled on the pages of old discarded library books. Complete with a bite mark taken out of the back cover.
If you don't have a daughter yet, you might want to plan ahead just so you can share The Mother-Daughter Book Club: How 10 Busy Mothers and Daughters Came Together to Talk, Laugh and Learn Through Their Love of Reading (Harper Paperbacks, $13.95; for moms with daughters ages 9 to 16). In this 10th anniversary, revised edition, Shireen Dodson gives you all the tips, some reading guides, plus lists of terrific books to lure you into the intellectual pleasures of books by Virginia Hamilton, Louis Sachar, Lloyd Alexander, Madeleine L'Engle, and so many others.
- Kathleen Krull