cover image OH NO, GOTTA GO!


Susan Middleton Elya, , illus. by G. Brian Karas. . Putnam, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23493-4

Readers need not be bilingual to enjoy this tale about the potty predicaments of traveling youngsters. While on a Sunday drive with her parents, the narrator—a girl in her white-dress finest with bow atop curly brown hair—innocently proclaims from the backseat her urgent need for a bathroom. Elya (Eight Animals Play Ball) packs the pages with more than 50 Spanish words and phrases (which appear in bold throughout) and uses a repetitive format (and glossary at the end) to clarify any meanings that cannot be inferred from the context. "On Sunday, domingo, the sign says cerrado./ The baker is tired. He feels muy cansado," the girl's father says as they search for a restroom on quiet streets lined by colorful Latin-esque buildings with tile roofs and brick-edged windows. Using the two languages does not detract from the basic humor of a situation familiar to many a parent, but neither does it always enhance. A few rhymes seem forced to fit the vocabulary. Perky, mixed-media art matches the brisk pace of the text. Karas's (Incredible Me!) characters with their large, round heads on pencil-thin necks appear alongside scribbles of purple crayon and wide brushstrokes, and he varies the perspectives from inside and outside of the car. The text often snakes around spot illustrations set against warm-hued backgrounds, appears in speech bubbles and is sometimes backed by collage accents of floral wallpaper. A sure reminder to visit the baño before leaving home. Ages 4-8. (June)