cover image WILD & WOOLLY


Mary Jessie Parker, Mary Parker Nourie, , illus. by Shannon McNeill. . Dutton, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-47276-6

McNeill's (Are We There Yet? ) pert, cheery pictures bring to mind vintage 1940s books, and they're the main attraction in this variation on the city mouse–country mouse genre. Wild, a strapping bighorn sheep, lives on the rocky hillside; roly-poly Woolly, a curlicued ranch sheep, prefers the grasslands below. Each tries to convince the other that his home has "everything a sheep could want": Woolly tries to entice Wild with the opportunity to wiggle in expanses of cool grass, and Wild tries to impress Woolly with the commanding views from the top of his hill. Neither is convinced, but the pair reaches a happy compromise: they will play in the woods that border their two homes. Parker (City Storm ) overloads the pages with unnecessary dialogue and description (e.g., "They laughed and laughed and laughed until their eyes filled with laughing-tears") which slows the book's pacing considerably. But the illustrations offer ample compensation. McNeill employs a variety of perspectives (from both sheeps' points of view) and framings, full-spread and spot illustrations, to give the book a rhythm that the text lacks. Her sprightly stylized characterizations should keep youngsters involved in the shifting dynamics of the goats' friendship.

Almost every page offers a visual tickle—when a friendly sheep dog licks Wild, his expression resembles that of a kindergarten boy who's just been kissed by a girl. Ages 4-up. (Feb.)