Sara Pinto, Author, Sara Pinto, Illustrator . Bloomsbury $16.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-58234-841-4

This creative and compact lift-the-flap book, designed as a square with rounded corners, results in a subtle game of I Spy. Its unassuming initial spreads introduce "A/ apples," "B/ bowl," "C/ cat" and "D/ dog." Each left-hand page presents the oversize letter and the word, while each right-hand page offers a picture of the named item on a bold square background with hinges and a doorknob. Open this paper door, and an interior spread depicts a rectangular room with pale yellow walls. Herein, all the named objects accumulate and interact. The calm cat and dog play politely with the "F/ fish," "G/ guitar" and "H/ hat," and "I/ ivy" precedes "L/ lamb" into the room. Consecutive stages show the little lamb eating the ivy (according to a popular 1940s song), and the ivy growing back; and an errant "moustache" prompts some amusing scenarios (first the cat wears it, then the dog, etc.). "P/ painting" seems to be a static portrait of a man and horsecart on a country road, but the sequence reveals that the portrait's components move around, creating a multilayered frame within a frame. Pinto, making her children's book debut, draws and paints in a delicate hand. Her controlled watercolors stay within her fine ink line, and the objects and animals never act the least unruly. Pinto's book is in good company this fall, with the many alphabetic offerings, including Shirley and Milton Glaser's The Alphazeds , an ABC that likewise packs an empty room (albeit with letters, not objects). Pinto's may be quieter, but her many combinations of the 26 elements will keep onlookers of all ages entertained. All ages. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
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