cover image Old Black Fly

Old Black Fly

Jim Aylesworth. Henry Holt & Company, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-1401-3

Aylesworth and Gammell wing their way through the alphabet on the back of a pesky housefly in this ebullient picture-book romp. On a summer day, old black fly ``bothered the baby,'' ``coughed on the cookies'' and ``drove the dog nearly out of his wits,'' as family members attempt to ``Shoo fly! / Shoo fly! Shooo.'' The persistent pest leaves a messy trail of near disasters until finally meeting up with the wrong end of a swatter. Ayleworth's snappy couplets constitute a waggish presentation of a basic concept. A brightly colored first letter highlights one word on each page that corresponds to the objects and action found in the illustration. Gammell's paintings are exuberant splashes of mayhem--rainbows of splattered hues from which truly memorable characters emerge. His appropriately bug-eyed (and cross-eyed) fly and gap-toothed humans sporting crazy hairdos provide a level of dementia that children will relish. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)