cover image BOOK!


Kristine O'Connell George, , illus. by Maggie Smith. . Clarion, $9.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-98287-7

George (Little Dog Poems) and Smith (Beach Day) present an endearing homage to the pleasures of books. When the toddler narrator opens a present and discovers a volume entitled Bunnies, he and the book immediately become inseparable—except for a brief moment when he observes its ingenious design: "I like the way you close./ I can put you on my shelf." The book can also be donned as a hat, loses no appeal when turned upside down and can be appreciated by a wide range of audiences—from the pet cat to an infant sibling ("I'll show you to the baby"). George needs only a few words on each spread to convey the boy's unadulterated happiness ("I'll give you a hug, Book!"). Smith's pared-down, full-bleed acrylics with warm, subtly variegated backgrounds play up the hero's tiny but expressive eyes as well as the ongoing presence of the cat and a checkered stuffed elephant. Smith makes it clear that, while Book represents an exciting new chapter in the boy's life, his gift also fits neatly into his cozy world. Ages 2-4. (Oct.)