cover image WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY?


Kerry Arquette, , illus. by Nancy Hayashi. . Harcourt, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201414-8

Through a series of "interviews" with 14 farm residents, Arquette (Daddy Promises) and Hayashi (My Two Grandmothers) model a wide range of idiosyncratic responses to that ubiquitous question, "What did you do today?" A fish replies, "I went out swimming with my school./ We visited a crystal pool/ Where water ripples clean and cool./ That's what I did today." A pig "found some mucky, muddy ground./ I wallowed deep and rolled around./ I made my favorite grunting sound." Hayashi's watercolor cartoons capture the bucolic expansiveness of a rural landscape, and she endows the nonhuman characters with comic dashes of personality (a bee, for example, angrily glares at a honey-stealing bear). However, various inconsistencies in the illustrations undermine the book's strengths. In the opening spreads, a boy seems to be set up as the observer/interrogator—but he's absent from the middle sequences. Another promising thread—an animal appearing as a minor character in one scene generates the action in the scene that follows—falls by the wayside for the final pages. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)