cover image Don't Spill the Beans!

Don't Spill the Beans!

Ian Schoenherr, . . Greenwillow, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-172457-2

The cast from last year's Read It, Don't Eat It! is back, albeit with a much slighter premise in tow. Bear has a secret and can't keep it quiet (“Don't spill the beans!/ Don't let it slip!/ Don't give it away!/ Just button your lip!”). Given that Schoenherr did such a great job putting a fun spin on sensible-but-boring rules for handling books in his previous picture book, readers (and grownups) may be surprised by the direction this story takes. The narrator quickly changes gears and gives Bear permission to tell all to everyone he knows: “Blurt it to Turtle./ Also Baboon./ Blab it to Rabbit./ Alert Raccoon.” This chain of confidences ends on the final spread, where the secret is revealed: a “Happy Birthday” wish for the reader. Once again, Schoenherr's vintage-styled animal portraits are wholly endearing; he's particularly good at giving very big animals (the hippo, elephant, and kangaroo) the earnest mannerisms of very small children. But the slender plot and highly specific punch line offer little to anyone who isn't being feted in the near future. Up to age 4. (Mar.)