Talk, Baby, by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Emily Bolam; Henry Holt, $13.95 -- A boy spends a year trying to teach his new baby sister to talk, with gratifying results, in this charming, colorful and sturdy picture book with a fill-out card at the end for "baby's first word."
Vera's First Day of School, by Vera Rosenberry; Holt, $15.95 -- As in her previous "When Vera Was Sick," the author-illustrator uses her own childhood experience to charming effect, this time for a simple but appealing story of a little girl's first encounter with the wonders and terrors of school. The energetic, colorful illustrations are a marvel down to the smallest detail (a cranky old neighbor spying out the window with binoculars), and Vera is a funny little moppet bursting with energy, with a flyaway pigtail, red bow and stick-thin legs.
-- Jean Westmoore
The Translator, by Ward Just; Mariner, $14 -- Happy to escape World War II memories, German Sydney Van Damm begins a new life in Paris. He meets and marries an American wife. Their carefree existence, his as a translator, is interrupted in 1989 and 1990 with the break-up of the Cold War order, and Van Damm's skills as a linguist are employed by an old friend with intelligence connections.
-- Ed Kelly