The Friendly Book
Margaret Wise Brown. Golden Books, $8.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-307-10643-8
Golden Books brings back three Big Little Golden Books, picture books from the 1940s and '50s now available in larger-sized, paper-over-board editions. Originally published in 1954, The Friendly Book by Margaret Wise Brown, illus. by Garth Williams, uses rhyming verse to explore a whole series of likable things. It's a paean to dogs and boats, cars and stars-as in ""I like stars/ Far stars/ Quiet stars/ Bright Stars/ Light stars/ I like stars/ A star that is shooting across the dark sky/ A star that is shining right straight in your eye/ I like stars."" Williams packs the illustrations with quirky, often hilarious details; for the spread about stars, for example, a rabbit balloonist floats through the night sky in a patched-up balloon, labeled ""starship,"" with a bird's nest on top of it. The Saggy Baggy Elephant by K. & B. Jackson, illus. by Tenggren, debuted in 1947. A happy little elephant named Sooki dances through the jungle until a saucy parrot makes fun of Sooki's saggy, baggy skin. This pachyderm-cum-ugly-duckling story features richly hued artwork against white backgrounds. A spare text tells the tale of a fire and the heroic firemen who rush to put it out, in The Great Big Fire Engine Book (1950) by Tibor Gergely, ""Quick! Connect the hoses! S-s-s-s! goes the water."" The rescuers swarm over each spread with reassuring efficiency.
Reviewed on: 06/01/2003