Picks and Pans Review: The Saga of Baby Divine

updated 10/31/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/31/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Bette Midler

Since self-indulgence is such a powerful part of Midler's appeal as a performer, it would not be fair to fault this odd little book on the grounds that it sometimes seems to be a public self-analysis. Written in the form of an epic poem, it is about a little girl—born wearing high heels—whose parents don't know quite what to do with her. Then she is taken under the wings of three ladies, Lily, Tillie and Joyce, who are a combination of the Three Wise Men, the Andrews Sisters and the William Morris Agency. They turn exhibitionistic Baby Divine on to showbiz, and a more or less lovable little monster is created. The illustrations by Todd Schorr are extravagant and colorful, but this is hardly a children's tale, dealing as it does with more or less adult introspection. Midler's knack for poetry roughly equals her taste in attire: "And Joyce came onstage as a Pizza to Go/There never was anyone like her/Her jokes were so funny that Baby Divine/Thought that someone had best change her diaper." This book has to be appreciated for its flash and glitz, the way the rest of Midler's act is. As such it is a campy exercise that should, if nothing else, delight devoted Midlerians. (Crown, $11.95)

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