Dan Yaccarino, . . Random/Golden, $14.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-375-82849-2

Yaccarino's (Bittle ) inventive, sharp-contoured images of city life unify this assortment of 34 nursery rhymes, which would have benefited from a more organized design. The contents range from such standards as "Humpty Dumpty" and "Pat-a-cake" to lesser-known work. For a preachy schoolroom verse ("May we, like the clock,/ Keep a face clean and bright,/ With hands ever ready/ To do what is right"), Yaccarino pictures a diligent boy unaware of two classmates holding a slingshot and peashooter. Just as Rosemary Wells offers ironic visual information in her more elaborate Mother Goose volumes, Yaccarino creates one illustration per poem and adds playful details unspoken by the rhymes; polite men in suits doff their hats and prim women wear fifties dresses in his retro-urban tableaux. When the "Hickory, dickory, dock" clock strikes one, the mouse takes a nose-dive toward a sleeping man's open mouth. The beatnik cat of "Hey, diddle, diddle!" plays his fiddle on a park bench, oblivious to the cop chasing a dish with a purloined spoon. The smooth-edged, stylized images expand on the concise verse, yet no drop caps (except on the first page) or page borders lend closure to individual poems, and no index or table of contents serves as a guide. Since some spreads offer one poem and others feature two rhymes per page, it makes for an awkward progression through this collection. Ages 2-5. (Sept.)