cover image A Was Once an Apple Pie

A Was Once an Apple Pie

, , illus. by Suse McDonald. . Scholastic/Orchard, $12.99 (28pp) ISBN 978-0-439-66056-3

McDonald, whose Alphabatics earned a Caldecott Honor, runs the gamut from A to Z once again with assistance from the venerable and very silly Lear. "A was once an apple pie," muses Lear, alongside a portrait of a steaming, deep-dish delight, "pidy, widy, tidy, pidy,/ nice insidy, apple pie!" A bear sporting overalls stands over the pie with an expression of rapture on his face: "B was once a little bear,/ beary, wary, hairy, beary,/ taky cary, little bear!" Lear introduces a mostly animal cast (the exceptions, other than the pie, are a bottle of ink, a kite and a rose), and McDonald, working in painted cut paper, provides a lively crew. Her strong shapes (mostly set against white backgrounds), impressionistic detailing and the critters' exuberant expressions insure there are no shrinking violets among this menagerie. By varying character interaction and population among the spreads, she skillfully counterbalances the ruminative nature of the verse, injecting narrative drive into the poem. There's plenty of inspiration here for children just beginning to grasp the fun of wordplay. Ages 3-5. (Sept.)