When You're Not Looking: A Storytime Counting Book

Maggie Kneen, Author Simon & Schuster $15 (10p) ISBN 978-0-689-80026-9
Despite its subtitle, Kneen's (Santa Bear's First Christmas) dainty new book doesn't offer actual stories, but rather contains pictures accompanied by a single sentence meant to inspire children to create their own tales. Some of the spreads contain enticing words and creatively cluttered scenarios that are rich with possibility, among them a toy store after closing time (""As soon as it was dark, the mischief began again"") and a child's bedroom in which toy planes hanging from the ceiling break free from their strings (""The planes knew exactly what to do next""). Other pictures are less successful as imagination igniters: a kitten stands on its hind legs against an aquarium and six marionettes perform on a puppet stage. As a counting book, this will challenge only those on the lowest end of the targeted audience; in a panel at the side of each spread appear a numeral and miniature objects (two snails, five toy cars, nine seashells) that kids can easily spot in the illustration alongside. The illustrations themselves, accomplished affairs stuffed with details, evoke quasi-fairy-tale settings--Bavarian cottages, a cabbage patch fit for Peter Rabbit, even a teddy bears' picnic. Ages 2-6. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1996
Release date: 08/01/1996
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