Dennis Lee, , illus. by David McPhail. . HarperCollins, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-029773-2

Lee and McPhail (The Ice Cream Store) return with another consistently outstanding collection of verse. Working in a range of moods, Lee serves up cheerful nonsense rhymes as well as poems that find elegance in the everyday: "You too lie/ down, the drowsy room is/ close and come to darkness./ Hush, you/ too can sleep at last. You/ too lie down." A chain of entries links the volume to the timeless authority of playground chants and Mother Goose rhymes in their recasting of childhood classics, as in "I ordered a TV-vee-vee/ To see what I could see-see-see" or "Fly me round the microwave./ Fly me round the moon./ Fly me like a millionaire/ On a Saturday afternoon!" Of note are slangy minor entries, printed in small type and worked into the illustrations (e.g., printed sideways, along the pickets of a fence; or between the branches of a leafless tree); these unfold silly surprises, including several with a mild gross-out factor and one about the Beatles. McPhail, working in his spring-like watercolor palette, unifies the poems by featuring a boy and a dog. The pair calmly coexists with the dragons or lions or wooly mammoths that make themselves at home in the art, as do a group of comically outlandish bugs. Startling readers into appreciation, the dexterity of Lee's language and of McPhail's detailed pictures guarantee discoveries on every page. Ages 5-9. (June)