cover image Hide and Snake

Hide and Snake

Keith Baker. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-233986-9

A vibrantly striped snake plays hide-and-seek in an array of imaginative locations. He starts off (``Ready or not--here I go!'') easily concealing himself among mittens and balls of yarn, then around elaborate hats, a pile of lavishly wrapped presents and napping cats. The spare but engaging verse relates this crafty creature's continueing journey: ``I'm frosting the cakes, / ticking with clocks, / melting in ice cream, / and sliding through socks.'' The socks present perhaps the greatest test to the reader, but generally the same thing gives the elusive reptile away throughout: one round eyeball and a smug smile. In the end, he tricks even the most astute snake-finder with his garden hose ploy. Though simple in concept, this book provides a diverting, entertaining challenge that youngsters will relish. Baker's ( The Magic Fan ) elaborate acrylic designs, variety of lush hues and sly wit provide a feast for the eyes while maintaining the cohesive personality of the book from page to page. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)