cover image Water


Frank Asch. Harcourt Children's Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200189-6

Stylistically and thematically reminiscent of Asch's recent The Earth and I, this picture book offers variations on a basic ecological concept: the importance (and omnipresence) of water. With simple, declarative sentences, the author runs through a litany of definitions, from the specific (``Water is rain. Water is dew'') to the abstract (``Water is high in the sky. Water is deep in the earth''). Unfortunately, the cumulative effect of the ``Water is'' construction is tiresome; teachers and purists may object to misleading statement (``Water is what fish breathe''). The accompanying watercolor and acrylic illustrations are appropriately liquidy and abundantly prismatic, with colors bleeding into one another for a rainbow effect. The result includes striking, multicolored snowflakes, confetti-like rainstorms and striped waterfalls. Wavering between narrative and nonfiction, this title struggles to find an appropriate audience. For a more solid-er, fluid-presentation, see Ken Robbins's Water (Children's Forecasts, Nov. 28), a photo-essay released last season. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)