J. Patrick Lewis, Author, Kyle M. Stone, Illustrator , illus. by Kyle M. Stone. Harcourt/Gulliver $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-15-216387-7

Despite its clever title, Lewis (Arithme-Tickle ) and Stone's combination of sentimental rhymes and at times ghoulish whimsy creates a volume of poetry about reading that may leave bookworms with a bit of indigestion. The verses range from the uplifting schoolmarmish acrostic, "Necessary Gardens" ("Libraries/ Are/ Necessary/ Gardens,/ Unsurpassed/ At/ Growing/ Excitement"), to a silly ditty about Elaine, "The Big-Word Girl": "I took her to a horror show—/ (Godzilla Meets tooth Fairy )—/ But she could not unglue her eyes/ From Webster's Dictionary." While many of debut illustrator Stone's paintings are interesting when taken individually, they do not always capture the spirit of the poems. The boy in "Necessary Gardens," for example, seems anything but excited by the stack of books atop which he precariously perches. Children weaned on scary films may enjoy Stone's depiction of Elaine escorted by a green monster and surrounded by horrified moviegoers, but those with queasy stomachs may avert their eyes. One of the most successful pairings is the title poem, for which the artist depicts a rabbit reading by candlelight among the library's stacks. Like Lewis's previous witty verse, the poems brim with wordplay, but they sometimes seem to be aimed at adults (e.g., in "Great, Good, Bad," readers are told, "A great book is a homing device/ For navigating paradise"); children may be more at ease with the zany tone of "Summer Reading at the Beach," which features "book shovels" for sand castle construction and leisure reading. Ages 6-9. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/14/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
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