cover image Bently & Egg

Bently & Egg

William Joyce. HarperCollins Publishers, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-020385-6

With a dash of whimsy and a dollop of eccentricity, this sprightly tale of a ``young and musical frog who loved to draw'' contains an endearing hero, amusing pandemonium and a pleasingly happy ending. The plot is deliciously impossible: asked to take care of his only friend's freshly hatched egg, Bently paints it, then watches helplessly as it is ``eggnapped'' by a boy who mistakes it for an Easter egg. During the daring rescue, Bently befriends a stuffed elephant and an earnest goldfish, sings charmingly, escapes in a hot-air balloon and in a toy boat, and learns that he has more friends than he realizes. The sophisticated text, full of puns and echoes of 19th-century language--``Oh, joy! Oh, rapture!'' intones Bently on finding the lost egg--will appeal to adults as well as children. Joyce ( Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo ) fans will be enchanted with both the Steig-like story and the muted pastel drawings that brim with droll humor and surprises aplenty. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)