cover image Oscar and Arabella and Ormsby

Oscar and Arabella and Ormsby

Neal Layton, . . Hodder, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-340-88454-6

When a woolly rhino joins the co-stars of Oscar and Arabella (a mammoth and a mastodon), trouble follows; fortunately, so does comedy. Oscar does handstands to amuse Arabella; show-off Ormsby does handstands, too, but while juggling, doing cartwheels, back-flips “and whistling a funny tune.” In the scribbly pen illustrations, which emphasize the trio's bristles and dust-mop fur, Oscar shoots jealous glares at Ormsby—leave it to Layton to draw a playboy woolly rhino. At first Arabella wears a deadpan expression, but soon her eyebrows lower over her dot eyes. She stomps off unnoticed while the boys wrestle; one of Layton's wittiest pictures shows them as they “bash” each other, their otherwise detailed hair reduced to loose scrawls over their two big shapes. The resolution arrives after the redoubtable Arabella surprises a caveman and her friends mistake his cries of terror for her plea for help; it's a hilarious send-up of machismo and rivalry, with an ending that's totally down to earth. Ages 5–7. (Feb.)