cover image Nonsense!


Sally Kahler Phillips, . . Random, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-375-83306-9

In her witty yet frank picture book, Phillips (Cake Cake Cake Pie ) speaks to the "inner toddler" in readers of all ages by affirming why it's important to stand up for oneself. Successfully avoiding a pedagogical tone, she instead illustrates her theme via a series of fiesta-bright collages of animals engaging in ludicrous activities. "What would you say if mice lived on stars,/ if rabbits read books,/ and birds played guitars?" The immediate reader response, of course, is "Nonsense!"—which becomes the refrain and also gives the book its name. Mice sleep, hang laundry and swing from the stars, while bunnies sporting bows sift through the pages of a book featuring carrots (a later spread of fish on stilts will have youngsters chuckling). Phillips's renderings in punch-colored, vibrant hues cause readers to take notice, and before long, they may find themselves shouting "nonsense!" in advance of the text. Among the comical scenarios, the author manages to interject her message in a non-preachy, emphatic voice (" 'Nonsense!' you'll say. Shout it loud, shout it far!/ Only you can decide who you are!"). Young readers will likely close the book hardly realizing they've been schooled at all. Ages 3-7. (Jan.)