cover image Around My Room

Around My Room

William Jay Smith. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-30406-5

Blegvad's (Hurry, Hurry, Mary Dear) airy pen-and-wash illustrations provide a puckish foil for this engaging collection of poems by Smith (Laughing Time). The selections range from familiar subjects such as ""The Toaster"" (""A silver-scaled Dragon with jaws flaming red/ Sits at my elbow and toasts my bread"") to more outlandish fare, including some loopy limericks, nifty nonsense verse and a host of animal poems. The sensibilities of poet and artist make them an astutely paired team; Smith's polished imagery (""a world of bathtub white"") and nimble wordplay (""Lady selling sarsaparilla,/ Lemon soda and vanilla"") supply ideal fodder for Blegvad, whose sprightly vignettes feature a delicate use of line and cross-hatching, subtle colors and a keen sense of whimsy. Unfortunately, a few of the larger illustrations have a somewhat underdone quality (e.g., ""The Cats' Picnic,"" ""People,"" ""Polar Bear""); they don't possess the attention to detail demonstrated in Blegvad's more characteristic, exquisitely honed vignettes (a rendering of the Brooklyn Bridge, for example, and the portrait of ""Mr. Simpson""). Still, the leisurely pace and overall tone of tranquility in the poems combined with Blegvad's seemingly effortless way with pen-and-ink capture the endless days of childhood. Ages 2-6. (Mar.)