cover image Nathaniel Willy, Scared Silly

Nathaniel Willy, Scared Silly

Judith Mathews, Judith Matthews. Bradbury Press, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-765285-7

The squeaky door gets the grease, but not before full, noisy havoc is wreaked in Nathaniel Willy's bed. When the youngster mistakes the creaking door (``Eeeeeeek'') for a ghost, tired Gramma attempts to allay his fears by bringing in the cat (then the dog, then a pig, etc.) for bedtime company. But each time the old woman leaves, the squeaking door triggers a cacophonous chain reaction of ``scrowlls,'' ``warffs'' and ``snoinks.'' Despite its skillful use of onomatopoeia, Mathews's ( An Egg and Seven Socks ) and Robinson's ( A Frog Inside My Head ) wordy text jerks unexpectedly in and out of verse, making the book's seemingly obvious read-aloud charms frustratingly elusive. Far more inspired are Natchev's ( The Hobyahs , reviewed above) perky, folkloric watercolors: bright colors and skewed angles capture the merry mayhem of the mud-splattered menagerie crowded into Nathaniel's bed. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)