cover image BOOM CHICKA ROCK


John Archambault, , illus. by Suzanne Tanner Chitwood. . Philomel, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23587-0

Unfortunately, this confusing counting book makes a weak companion to Archambault's now classic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom , co-authored with Bill Martin Jr. The repeated and infectious refrain—this time it's "Boom Chicka Rock, Chicka Rock, Chicka Boom!"—is engaging, but neither art nor text clarify the complicated plot and visual clues. Without explanation, the characters go by various names (Max the cat is sometimes called Lion, the mouse is sometimes Hour Number One ); and only near the end of the book do readers discover that the 12 mice represent the hours on the clock ("Tomorrow can't begin/ Till every hour is home/ And every number's tucked in"). Because there is such variance between what the text describes and what the illustrations depict, it's almost as if Archambault and Chitwood (Wake Up, Big Barn! ) are telling two different stories. For example, for mouse Number Eight 's line, "Climb over the Lion before it's too late/ And jitterbug over to the Birthday Cake!," the illustration shows neither cat nor cake and depicts only two of the eight rodents as they gleefully ride inside sugar and cereal bowls with wheels. Nor does the body language of the mice indicate the dances mentioned at various points in the text. Despite some clever rhythms and wonderful collage compositions featuring expressive mouse characters, the plot of the story is so abstract that the inclusion of time seems to muddle rather than complement the counting rhyme. All ages. (Apr.)