cover image Never Tease a Weasel

Never Tease a Weasel

Jean Conder Soule, , illus. by George Booth. . Random, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-375-93420-9

First published in 1964 with illustrations by Denman Hampson, this gentle but catchy anti-teasing book gets a wry makeover from New Yorker cartoonist Booth (Wacky Wednesday ), that brilliant chronicler of the cranky and quizzical. The artist takes Soule's nonsense rhymes to a whole new level of humor and—yes—emotional acuity. The book kicks off by noting there are many ways to be kind, especially if one possesses a skewed sense of ingenuity: "You can knit a kitten mittens/ And perhaps that cat would purr./ You could fit a fox with socks/ That exactly matched his fur." More animal recipients of loony benevolence appear: a pink, Phyllis Diller wig has been bestowed upon a pig; three frogs sport their gift of "sailing togs/ and a yachting cap or two." These random acts of goofy kindness alternate with sharply contrasting scenes of two young hooligans who taunt the wholly bewildered title weasel merely because they can. Finally the children take Soule's advice (and the book's refrain) to heart: "never tease a weasel,/ This is very good advice./ A weasel will not like it—/ And teasing/ isn't/ nice!" A snappy re-engineering of a classic. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)