cover image What's That Room For?

What's That Room For?

Betsy James. Dutton Books, $11.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-44382-7

Mom opens the door to Natalie's room to behold an explosion of preschooler clutter. In exasperation she asks Natalie, ""What do you think that room is for?'' and urges her to pick it up. Natalie, with ``help'' from her baby brother Thomas, proceeds to demonstrate what the room (and various objects within) are truly for. For example, ``clothes are for picking up . . . dressing up . . . wearing backwards and sideways and for turning yourself into a horrible dinosaur.'' James's first book displays a knowledge of life with youngsters that seems firsthand. Natalie and Thomas tumble and roll through the incredible jumble of crayons, toys and graham crackers with energy, inventiveness, moodiness and spurts of sibling rivalry. Mom rejoins them in the end and, instead of scolding them, demonstrates that ``a door is for shutting so you don't have to look at the mess.'' Full-color illustrations spill from one page to the next, as lively and spirited as the text. Ages 3-6. (March)