Edward R. Emberley, Author, Edward R. Emberley, Illustrator . Little, Brown $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-316-24022-2

Neon hues and a cast of circus animals sporting festive togs and clown noses dominate Emberley's (The Wing on a Flea) exuberant chase. A mouse in flashy yellow rompers with festive polka dots (which play up its red ball nose and perfectly circular pink ears) spies a hunk of delectable cheese, outlined center ring–style in half circles that match the mouse's attire. (The ring's border reads, "The Delicious Cheese Company.") Well targeted to beginning readers, the minimal, cumulative text next urges the young mouse to make haste ("Run, Kiko, run! But don't drop that delicious cheese!") after the tiny critter grabs the wedge. "Uh-oh!" mutters Kiko when a black cat in red and gold stripes appears ("Oh, Kiko, see Gato?") and quickens Kiko's pace. In increasing size, a dog, tiger and elephant enter the fray; they all get their moment in the spotlight (a solo appearance on the left of the spread) before joining the scurrying parade on the right. Sailing through the air via umbrella, Kiko's mother, Koko (in an outfit to match her offspring's), frightens the elephant and frees her Kiko ("Thanks, Mom"). At once buoyant and understated, Emberley's story dressed up in stars, stripes and polka dots slyly delivers lessons in punctuation, pecking order and manners. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/24/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!