cover image Whskrvl Fire House: 5

Whskrvl Fire House: 5

Joanne Barkan. Grosset & Dunlap, $3.5 (10pp) ISBN 978-0-448-19468-4

These endearing board books, die-cut in the shapes of the buildings depicted, are populated with friendly, industrious mice. Two young Whiskerville residents take readers on a tour that proves both instructional and entertaining. Children can learn rudimentary facts about the workings of these important institutions, as they watch a fire hose being checked for holes or canvas letter bags being loaded onto the mail truck. Barkan deftly avoids the cloying sweetness found in some similar books, and her straightforward text even includes an occasional, albeit subtle, lesson: at the post office, ``patient mice wait in line for a turn at the counter.'' Color and pattern abound in Schmidt's delicate, circular paintings, which contain many whimsical touches. This hospitable town is worth a stop on any young traveler's itinerary. Ages 2-5. (Apr.)