cover image I'll Play with You

I'll Play with You

Mary McKenna Siddals. Clarion Books, $14 (28pp) ISBN 978-0-395-90373-5

Four children treat nature as their playmate in Siddals's (Tell Me a Season) cheerful book. A waking boy tells the sun, ""Meet me outside,"" and a girl greets the wind as she brushes her teeth. While sitting in a grassy field with his pet beagle, another boy challenges the clouds (""You make some pictures. I'll guess what they are""). The speakers are not just fair-weather friends; one girl implores the rain to ""fill up the puddles so I can go splashing,"" then dons a yellow slicker and leaps right in. At day's end, all four unite on a hillside under a vast star-filled sky; Wisniewski's (Workshop) cutout shapes in variegated shades of post-dusk blue accentuate the depth and height of the panoramic view. Then the children, each back in their own rooms, fall asleep with the moon shining through the window. Wisniewski depicts detailed images of tiny leaves, draped cloth and the children's alert faces, as well as more abstract ideas, such as an invisible wind, which he whips up by slicing a spiral of semi-transparent paper. The author avoids anthropomorphizing the weather, simply by imagining how a person addresses a silent-but-agreeable companion: ""You twinkle, and I'll try to count you,"" the children tell the stars. Although the young characters spend time apart from human companions, it's a comforting solitude that suggests a fresh connection with the world. Ages 2-5. (Aug.)