Bubba and Beau earned a place on our family list of favorites the minute we laid eyes on this adorable duo. Bubba is a big-eyed, bald-headed Southern baby, and Beau is his faithful hound companion. It's not often that kids and parents adore books equally, but these two always get us hooting. Bubba and Beau Meet the Relatives is their third adventure, after Bubba and Beau: Best Friends and Bubba and Beau Go Night-Night. Seldom has there been a picture book series for young children with such a distinctive, fun voice. Despite the short text, the stories are so rich and well paced that these books even have narrative flow.

Author Kathi Appelt, who lives in Texas, puts a drawl in the story that keeps on kicking, and Arthur Howard's illustrations are simple masterpieces of energy and humor. Wide-eyed Bubba and Beau both stare as Bib Bubba whips ups his pie. In chapter two, when both find a mud hole, their gleeful wallowing is clear as day. I know of no other artist who can give simple eyes a dot inside a circle so much expression.

One can just imagine what happens when the relatives arrive: Granddaddy Bubba, Grandma Ruby, Aunt Sapphire and little Cousin Arlene and her dog, Bitsy. These last two are dressed in fancy pink bows, and baby Arlene wears a pink and purple ruffled dress. As they all eye each other warily, it's hard to imagine that the little newcomers will get along with rough-and-tumble Bubba and Beau. But it turns out they're a barrel of fun, too. The tots and dogs all head straight for that mud hole, and a glorious time ensues. Are relatives coming to your house? Grab this book and you'll be more than ready for a root-tooting reunion.

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