What's What? a Guessing Game

Mary Serfozo, Author, Keiko Narahashi, Illustrator Margaret K. McElderry Books $15 (1p) ISBN 978-0-689-80653-7
As in Serfozo and Narahashi's previous collaborations (Who Wants One?; Who Said Red?), this book features a simple text, appealing watercolors and a surprise ending that is sure to please. Each in a series of questions (""What's hard?"" ""What's soft?"") is answered by a three-line verse at the turn of the page (""A sidewalk is hard/ as a rock or a wall./ So look out where you fall!""). Unfortunately, the generally lilting text is not consistently rhythmic, and unimaginative book design diminishes the effectiveness of Narahashi's sweetly joyful illustrations. Left-hand pages show a full-bleed watercolor illustrating answers to the preceding question; on the facing page, the next question appears with minimal adornment on negative space. While the layout encourages participation in the ""guessing game,"" the spreads seem visually lopsided. At the end, the individual questions are strung together in a single riddle: ""What's soft and hard and warm and cold and wet and dry and long and short and light and dark all at the same time?"" The answer--an irresistible brown-and-white puppy bounding across a sun-yellow spread--will delight the preschool audience to which this book is best suited. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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