What will baby's first word be?
Spend a day in the country with Anita Lobel's friendly animals.
Meow. Woof. Moo! Whoo! Baby will be talking in no time!
It's a beautiful spring day, inspiring the denizens of farm, field and forest to offer up their full-throated version of the title greeting. "The Cow said, 'Moo,' " proclaims the text opposite a mild-mannered, sloe-eyed cow, her hide glowing with marker-like striations of peach, pink and brown. Like the other nine animals featured, the cow is portrayed in a stylized setting that's positively Edenic, filled with a rainbow of flowers, turquoise water and plump, leafy trees. Lobel (Alison's Zinnia) doesn't seem to be aiming for a realistic approximation of the sun's transit-in fact, the sky backdrop for the horse portrait ("Neigh") is an improbable but utterly fetching pink (all the better to set off the gray of the horse's coat). The sun remains a radiant orange ball in an upper corner of each image until the final pages, when it exits dramatically to make room for the moon (here Lobel cues a handsomely dappled owl). The luxuriantly hued, playfully textured portraits will rivet preschoolers and invite them to make animal sounds of their own; the minimal text, set in big, friendly type, may also encourage some simple word recognition. It's a familiar, basic idea, but Lobel makes it as fresh as a morning in May. Ages up to 3. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.