For Just One Day

Laura Leuck, Author, Marc Boutavant, Illustrator , illus. by Marc Boutavant. Chronicle $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8118-5610-2

Schoolchildren imagine themselves as chimps, whales and butterflies in this fantasy. The layout builds suspense, with ellipses preceding each page turn: “If I could have a spiky spine/ I'd get to be a.../ porcupine!” thinks a girl as she brushes her unruly hair and then, in animal form, has luxurious spines combed by a patient bunny. The children's choices sometimes improve their lives, as when a nerdy boy walks past two teasing kids: “For just one day, if I could dare,/ I'd be a growling grizzly.../ bear! I'd give my brother quite a scare,/ if I could be a grizzly bear.” (As a bear, he cups the bullies—who have turned into mice—in his paw.) Evoking 1970s illustration, Boutavant's (All Kinds of Families! ) eccentric digital art features lithographs' grainy textures, fine lines and saturated colors; his doe-eyed, bobble-headed characters resemble the kids from the “Love Is...” comic. Leuck (I Love My Pirate Papa ) crafts bubbly if predictable verse; a mirror on the final page helps salvage a wordy conclusion about preferring “to be/ that special someone, that is.../ me!” Up to age 4. (Oct.)