Michael Garland, . . Dutton, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-46675-8

Garland (An Elf for Christmas) fashions his computer-generated artwork into a visual puzzler leading to a surprise birthday party. After receiving an invitation from his eccentric Aunt Jeanne, Tommy finds successive notes that lead him through her mansion, into a maze in the garden and finally to cake and guests. Readers are invited along for the ride from the start (Aunt Jeanne's letter instructs them to "Take a pencil and paper/ And carefully look./ Make a list of the things/ That you find in this book"). The rhymes may be forced, but the hunt is the main draw. Garland hides several hundred objects in the illustrations, from butterflies, bats, frogs and more in the statuary and shrubbery, to letters that spell out clues. The surreal quality of Garland's digital illustrations works well here, allowing for an abundance of repetitive elements and lush layering of wallpapers, textiles and so on that play up the trompe l'oeil effect. Heightening the game is the fun-loving Aunt Jeanne herself, hiding in each display. An afterword provides a checklist of all the hidden items. Ages 5-11. (July)