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LITTLE surprise to see a baby book in the bestsellers, but this one is remarkable in that it won't tell you what to do. Baby It's You is not a bossy, angst-inspiring how-to manual for parents, but a dispassionate study of how babies learn to do the things adults take for granted - laughing, eating, walking, talking. Aping David Attenborough, Annette Karmiloff-Smith, a child pyschologist, looks at developing babies as if they were young animals and asks what it's like to be one. Among the fascinating things she has discovered, through observation and pyschological tests, are: a newborn baby can recognise its mother by her voice, and distinguish its mother tongue from other languages; it can swim underwater with its mouth open and not choke; and if you stick out your tongue, the baby will return the gesture. This is just for starters: a baby learns more in its first two years than in all the subsequent years put together. The book accompanies the eponymous Channel 4 series, in which charming babies toddled round beautiful homes, bathed in lovely, sloping light. But it's more than a TV spin-off. Well-written and brilliantly illustrated, it has a rare virtue: it won't make you feel the slightest bit guilty.

----------------------------------------------------------------- THE INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY BESTSELLER LIST ----------------------------------------------------------------- HARDBACKS ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 In the Kitchen with Rosie by Rosie Daley, Ebury pounds 9.99 (4/3) 2 Magic Eye 2 by N E Thing Enterprises Michael Joseph pounds 10.99 (2/10) 3 Delia Smith's Summer Collection BBC Books pounds 14.99 (1/37) 4 The Chamber by John Grisham Century pounds 15.99 (5/6) 5 The Hidden City by David Eddings HarperCollins pounds 15.99 (3/2) 6 Summers Will Never be the Same ed C Martin-Jenkins & P Gibson Partridge Press pounds 12.99 (6/5) 7 Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab Bantam Press pounds 14.99 (7/38) 8 Soul Music by Terry Pratchett Gollancz pounds 14.99 (8/7) 9 The Laundrymen by Jeffrey Robinson Simon & Schuster pounds 17.99 (-/1) 10 Travels a la Carte by Sophie Grigson & William Black Network Books pounds 15.99 (14/6) 11 Michelin Red Guide: France 1994 Michelin pounds 12.95 (12/14) 12 The Fist of God by Frederick Forsyth Bantam Press pounds 15.99 (9/10) 13 Accident by Danielle Steel Bantam Press pounds 15.99 (-/3) 14 Baby It's You by Annette Karmiloff-Smith Ebury Press pounds 14.99 (-/2) 15 The Kenneth Williams Letters ed Russell Davies HarperCollins pounds 18 (-/1) ----------------------------------------------------------------- PAPERBACKS ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 A Spanish Lover by Joanna Trollope Black Swan pounds 5.99 (-/1) 2 Cruel and Unusual by Patricia D Cornwell, Warner pounds 4.99 (3/2) 3 Without Remorse by Tom Clancy HarperCollins pounds 5.99 (4/3) 4 Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle, Minerva pounds 5.99 (1/6) 5The Client by John Grisham Arrow pounds 5.99 (2/6) 6 River God by Wilbur Smith Pan pounds 5.99 (5/4) 7 The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous by Jilly Cooper Corgi pounds 5.99 (6/10) 8 The Night Manager by John le Carre Coronet pounds 5.99 (7/9) 9 Foetal Attraction by Kathy Lette Picador pounds 5.99 (11/4) 10 Angel by Barbara Taylor Bradford HarperCollins pounds 4.99 (8/6) 11 A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth Phoenix pounds 8.99 (13/15) 12 The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields 4th Estate pounds 5.99 (10/5) 13 Wild Swans by Jung Chang Flamingo pounds 7.99 (15/41) 14 Honour Among Thieves by Jeffrey Archer HarperCollins pounds 5.99 (-/13) 15 Storm: To Green Angel Tower Part 2 by Tad Williams, Legend pounds 5.99 (-/1) (The first figure shows last week's place; the second shows appearances on this list.) ----------------------------------------------------------------- NATURAL HISTORY, ECOLOGY & THE ENVIRONMENT ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 The Diversity of Life by E O Wilson, Penguin pounds 7.99 2 Eight Little Piggies by Stephen Jay Gould, Penguin pounds 7.99 3 Simon King's Wild Guide by Simon King, BBC Books pounds 16.99 4 Plants for the Wildlife Garden ed Peter Thurman, Pavilion pounds 4.99 5 The Tree Book by J Edward Milner Collins & Brown pounds 16.99 6 The Trials of Life by David Attenborough, BBC Books pounds 16.99 7 The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ecology ed M Allaby, OUP pounds 7.99 8 Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, Penguin pounds 6.99 9 The Crystal Desert: Summers in Antarctica by David G Campbell Minerva pounds 6.99 10 Living Woodland: A Journey Through the Seasons by David Boag, Blandford Press pounds 9.99 ----------------------------------------------------------------- Compiled by Bookwatch -----------------------------------------------------------------