Bethany Roberts, Author, Kay Chorao, Illustrator , illus. by Kay Chorao. Holt $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6486-5

A small squirrel with a big imagination plays a rousing game of "what if" in Roberts's (Halloween Mice!) reassuring picture book about a common childhood fear. In the care of Aunt Lily, Rosie wants to know when her parents will be home. The answer, "soon," does not satisfy her: Rosie dreams up all manner of elaborate scenarios that might keep Mother and Father away, possibly forever ("What if something happened? What if... a tiger ate them?"). In a twist on the tried-and-true Runaway Bunny formula, it is Rosie, not the adult, who provides the antidote. Aunt Lily serves as an encouraging listener ("Eaten by a tiger? What an awful thought!"), allowing Rosie room to surmount each imagined obstacle ("But I would rescue them.... I would chase that tiger until he let them free"). Chorao's (Little Farm by the Sea) playful compositions—a blend of candy-colored gouache, pencil, pen and ink—alternate between small-ish views of Rosie's warm and comforting surroundings and larger pictures of her high-energy fantasies. Just this side of scary, the artwork keeps perfect pace with Rosie's (er, Roberts's) tall-tale telling. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/10/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
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