cover image Boogie Bones

Boogie Bones

Elizabeth Loredo. Putnam Publishing Group, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22763-9

Boogie Bones, the best skeleton dancer of all, practices his jitterbug in a misty, moonlit cemetery. Although he and his clattering cohorts are ""a bit frightened of people, who [have] no bones about them,"" he slips into a moldy tuxedo, baseball cap and mustache disguise to attend a dance contest among the living. There he watches a couple who cha-cha with ""noses turned up and toes turned down,"" then selects a partner for the tango. His rambunctious behavior lands him in trouble, however. When Boogie's disguise flies off and his secret is revealed, the author resorts to a generic gambit: a fearless girl steps from the horrified crowd to trip the light fantastic. Hawkes (By the Light of the Halloween Moon) contrasts shadowy midnight scenes, shrouded in greenish pastel fog, with the brightly lit, golden interior of the dance hall. He rises to the challenge of making the skeleton's face expressive, although highly observant audiences may wonder how Boogie can squint his eyes with glee. An apt closing image--a dance trophy against a granite headstone--sums up the volume's gothic humor. Meanwhile, Loredo's (Mystery on the Mississippi) homespun narration evokes good-natured charm rather than morbid and ghostly thoughts, and ends on a witty, ironic note (""That was the happiest night of Boogie Bones's life""). Ages 4-8. (Aug.)