cover image The Outside Inn

The Outside Inn

George Ella Lyon. Orchard Books (NY), $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05936-4

This slight, mildly amusing offering from the creators of Together features a freestyle poem about the menu at a ``make believe'' restaurant by a small woodland pond, where meals `` Squirm in your spoon / and wriggle at your chin.'' There are such delicacies as caterpillar feet, slugs in a sack, ants with ketchup and puddle ink, and all are prepared by an active gang of multi-ethnic children who finally gross out even themselves with a special dessert: worms and dirt. While the brief text may give children a giggle and a shiver or two, the watercolor paintings are rather dreary. Rosenberry's palette is a blend of washed-out grays and browns, and while her crawlie creatures are admirably creepy, her human subjects are stiff, disproportionate and even--in the only closeup of their faces--grotesque. The book may inspire youngsters to come up with their own squirmy snacks, but when it comes to multiple readings, it isn't likely to generate many requests for seconds. Ages 2-6. (Aug.)