WON'T YOU BE MY KISSAROO?

Joanne Ryder, Author, Melissa Sweet, Illustrator , illus. by Melissa Sweet. Harcourt/Gulliver $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-15-202641-7

With tender rhyming couplets, winsome watercolors and a title that's the very definition of the proverbial offer you can't refuse, Ryder and Sweet (previously paired for A House by the Sea ) catalogue the many different smooches shared by parents and offspring. Sweet's opening spread conveys the book's framing conceit: the full-bleed illustration features a lamb on her birthday. After receiving a congratulatory kiss from her mother at the start of the day, the lamb strolls around her rural neighborhood, enabling readers to see all the kisses being proffered by other animal families. Amid flowers, a butterfly baby offers a cheek to her parent: "A hello kiss is soft as rain./ It's good to see your face again." Over in the pond, a red-booted tadpole busses a frog: "A playful kiss will often squeak/ and make a pop! upon your cheek." The story is tied up as neatly as a ribbon on a birthday present, with the lamb's journey ending at a surprise party populated by the young animals featured in the previous spreads. Sweet's pastel-toned watercolors reflect the sunlight and friskiness of springtime, while her simple, large-scale shapes and tightly framed compositions bring readers into the thick of the kissable moments. Ages 2-5. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/17/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
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