cover image Dr Knickerbocker CL

Dr Knickerbocker CL

David Booth. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16.95 (71pp) ISBN 978-0-395-67168-9

This Canadian duo contributes a sprightly addition to the growing literature of children's street and playground verse. Their offering is chock-full of the poems of childhood: counting rhymes, jumprope rhymes, tongue-twisters, shaggy-dog stories (``I came before you / To stand beyond you . . . ''), irreverent variations on ``Mary Had a Little Lamb''' and more. Kovalski, departing from the warm, cozy style she established in such titles as The Wheels on the Bus , here combines historical woodcuts with her own pen-and-ink drawings to create wonderfully lively black-and-white spreads which nod at Edward Gorey in their prankishness. Her figures interact with one another and even with the verses' text: speech bubbles issue from gargoyles, riddles are written on a blackboard, lettering traverses the horizontals of a jumprope and a dog's leash. More droll than outright mischievous, in contrast to the Opie/Sendak I Saw Esau , and with a picture-book format that suits it to a slightly younger audience, this collection is similar in its ample capacity to entertain, surprise and delight. Ages 8-up. (Aug.)