cover image Nuts to You!

Nuts to You!

Lois Ehlert. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-257647-9

A squirrel's increasingly intrepid explorations--around the birdfeeder, up to the window box and into the apartment through a tear in the screen--are the springboard for cut-paper collages as striking as any in Ehlert's considerable portfolio. But instead of employing the stark blocks of color predominant in her previous works, here she adds washes that produce gorgeous variegations in shades on many elements: the squirrel's coat, a gray that is alive with hints of brown, copper and even green; vibrant petunias that seem almost tie-dyed; dandelions whose yellow faces all but burst from the page. Various plants and birds are pictured and labeled along the way, and a glossary of ``Squirrel Talk'' provides ample information about the creature and its habits. A work of extraordinary visual splendor with an effectively simple, active plot, the book is marred only by the somewhat humdrum verse used to tell the story--in this case an easily forgiven shortcoming. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)