cover image Dick King-Smith's Alphabeasts

Dick King-Smith's Alphabeasts

Dick King-Smith. MacMillan Publishing Company, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-750720-1

Heirs of Edward Lear and relatives of the Steigs, these well-matched wags marshal a menagerie of unfamiliar animals, from anaconda to zambra (``a bison of old Lithuania''). King-Smith's exuberant nonsense verse lures beasts of all kinds into the limelight, where Blake's illustrations capture their comic combination of daffiness and dignity. For example, impatient long- and short-nosed bandicoots hem and haw as scientists apply tape measures to their ``snoots.'' Dextrous rhymes are pitched with hilarity: ``The American Elk--also known as the wapiti-- / Runs through the maple woods, clippety-cloppety. / Favored with feet of remarkable property, / Wapitis never have need of chiropody.'' A prefatory poem warning of the horrors of extinction adds a timely note to this exercise in zany zoography. Ages 6-up. (Sept.)