cover image City Noise

City Noise

Karla Kuskin. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021076-2

Kuskin ( City Dog ; The Philharmonic Gets Dressed ) and first-time illustrator Flower seize on urban cacophony and turn it into a celebration of life itself in this dynamic picture book. A girl discovers a tin can in the street and holds it up to her ear to hear the secrets it keeps: the roar of city life tumbles out, like a genie escaping from a lamp. With a few well-chosen words (``Squalling Calling Crashing Rushing'') the noise level intensifies, matched by comically frenetic pictures in which every object (house, car, garbage can) is personified and given a manic expression. All is frenzied movement and color. In this carnival-like setting cars honk and belch; ships smoke; people joke, laugh and yell; trains squeal. Even the words ``reds and greens'' are an invitation for mayhem. Noise here is equated with ``Living Living Living''--and certainly the book is a whirling, swirling, crazy, colorful ode to sound. There is much child appeal here in both text and artwork, although parents may be praying for peace and quiet after successive readings. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)