cover image Fraidyzoo


Thyra Heder. Abrams, $16.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0776-6

Debut talent Heder comes up with a wildly imaginative idea for an alphabet book/animal guessing game, elaborates it with smartly drafted ink-and-watercolor spreads, and seasons it with plenty of family warmth and hullaballoo. Little T’s mother, father, and older sister discover that she’s reluctant to go the zoo, and they throw themselves into figuring out which animal she’s frightened of. Adorning themselves with common household objects, they go right through the alphabet. “Can it give itself showers?” her hyper older sister asks, with two plastic bags on her ears and her arm held up like an elephant’s trunk for E. “Maybe it’s pink?” asks her father, skipping across the room in a pink tutu and pink Post-its stuck to his fingers, a fetching flamingo F. The picture of a family working together to cheer up its tiniest member, the identifiable elements of all the costumes, and the unexpected creature that Little T actually fears (a middle-aged ticket taker with menacing fingernails) all ring true—and readers will come away with some fine animal costume ideas, too. Ages 4–8. Agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Nov.)