cover image Little Miss Muffet's Count-Along Surprise

Little Miss Muffet's Count-Along Surprise

Emma Chichester Clark. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32517-2

Any hopes of Miss Muffet enjoying her curds and whey in peace are dashed in this clever, sprightly picture book. Clark (Thumbelina) throws the traditional nursery rhyme playfully on its ear as the spider who sat down beside her invites Miss Muffet to ""Please stay!"" Subsequently, a menagerie of smartly dressed animals happens along in progressively increasing numbers, each with snacks and decorations in tow. Five pussycats bring ""milk shakes and party hats,/ And small pots of chocolate souffle,"" and seven bears arrive with a table and chairs. ""When along came ten crocodiles/ With a box and ten greedy smiles,"" Miss Muffet panics--until her toothy friends present her with a birthday cake and a surprise party. Clark's satisfying mix of concept, rhyme and slightly irreverent fun will have preschoolers cheering. Her chipper, predominantly leafy-green watercolors set the stage for a pleasant woodland picnic on a sunny day. Little Miss Muffet's wide-eyed surprise--especially at the sight of hungry crocodiles--embodies the gentle humor so often found in Clark's work. Ages 2-5. (Oct.)