cover image Once There Was a Bull . . . (Frog)

Once There Was a Bull . . . (Frog)

Rick Walton. Gibbs Smith Publishers, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-87905-652-0

A good idea never quite gets off the ground in this outing, in which compound words are split for comic surprises. On page one, for example, a picture of a spiraling oxtail is captioned, ``Once there was a bull...''; turn the page, and the tail becomes a long pink tongue and the sentence concludes, ``...frog who had lost his hop.'' Bullfrog goes searching for his hop ``under a toad... stool'' and ``in a patch of grass... hoppers,'' but cannot leap until he encounters a ``diamond... back rattlesnake looking for breakfast.'' Walton's most amusing moment may be Bullfrog's statement, ``I'm so hungry I could eat a horse... fly.'' The story is never more than banal, but could easily lend itself to a high-energy, read-aloud. The book's design is as straightforward as its plot; undulating lines of hand-drawn text caption square paintings of Bullfrog's adventures. Debut illustrator Hally layers what look to be multicolored pastels on a grainy surface, forgoing precise detail for a slightly unconventional, impressionistic effect. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)