cover image STINK SOUP


Jill Esbaum, , illus. by Roger Roth. . FSG, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-37252-1

Esbaum's breezy first children's book introduces a pair of siblings who, spending a week at Granny's, are given two very different missions. Likeable narrator Annabelle is charged with keeping her younger brother out of trouble (no small feat, since "Willie and trouble went together like biscuits and gravy") and helping her grandmother put up the tomato garden, while Willie's task is a simpler one: "To play." And, while his sister sets out to wash a mountain of newly picked tomatoes, play he does, pestering the goat, lassoing chickens and climbing the windmill, antics Annabelle is powerless to prevent. After being served stewed tomatoes for dinner (not Annabelle's favorite), the girl continues to toil, helping Granny make equally detested tomato juice. In the wry denouement, Willie misbehaves once again and scares a skunk—and Annabelle is delighted with the remedy for the situation (hint: it requires every last jar of tomato juice). Filled with comical images, Roth's (The Sign Painter's Dream ) cheerful art echoes the energy and folksiness of the tale. Many of his illustrations feature a wide-eyed Annabelle staring out at readers, and clearly communicate her affection for Willie even when he's naughty. Whether fond of tomatoes or not, kids will find this a flavorsome romp. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)