cover image The Adventures of Isabel

The Adventures of Isabel

Ogden Nash. Joy Street Books, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-316-59874-3

The heroine of this jaunty poem is no stranger to adversity: she quickly and calmly dispatches a variety of threatening figures, to the strains of Nash's vivacious comic cadences. (``She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up. / Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.'') As depicted by the ever-wacky Marshall, Isabel is rotund, bespectacled and absolutely unflappable, with a quiet grin of self-satisfaction. Her colorful wardrobe includes such incongruities as roller skates (lifted from an easily done-in witch) and Birkenstock sandals. The villains here are a hilariously horrible lot, from a toothy, neon-green witch to a hairy, one-eyed giant to a doctor whose every pore radiates untrustworthiness. Beneath its droll humor, this fine lark of a book contains a sound bit of advice for banishing terrors real and imagined: ``Don't scream when the bugaboo says `Boo!' / Just look it in the eye and say, `Boo to you!' '' Ages 4-8. (Sept.)