cover image REGINALD


Michael Ed. Newman, Jeff Newman, . . Doubleday, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-385-74634-2

As in Sink or Swim (reviewed above), this debut picture book, too, gives center stage to a swimming cow. Here the setting is just as unlikely as the premise itself: Reginald the bull inhabits "the darkest depths of the Amazon." He leads a carefree life, happy despite such unfriendly neighbors as a hungry jaguar, a family of vampire bats who make "horrible sucking sounds," a poisonous, taunting frog and a "lunatic ape" who routinely threatens, "I'm gonna eatcha." When Reginald dons his flowered trunks and takes a swim in the river, his neighbors initially tease him, but soon they are caught up in learning to do the backstroke, with instruction and encouragement from their new bovine pal. Newman's stylized pencil-and-watercolor artwork has the slightly zany feel of an animated cartoon. The characters are shaped like inflated balloons, particularly Reginald, whose neckless head perches atop his huge potbellied torso, his spindly limbs comically out of proportion. The blend of silliness and overall good nature of the story makes this outing an enjoyable trip. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)