cover image Over the Moon

Over the Moon

Rachel Vail. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-531-30068-8

In her picture book debut, Vail (Wonder) delivers a hilarious and exuberant twist on a classic nursery rhyme. A lovely, ever-so-hefty cow takes center stage--literally--as a monkey named Hiram Diddle Diddle (Hi for short) directs her in a stage production of his rhyme. In a series of comical scenes, the cow makes several attempts to jump over a moon suspended above the stage, but instead she jumps under, beside and through it. Just before the excitable Mr. Diddle Diddle blows a gasket, the cow pulls off the perfect performance. Vail's inventive text takes the form of clever quips (as when the cow tells the director, ""Gimme another shot. I think I know what you're looking for"") displayed in bold hand-lettering within black-and-white talk bubbles. Amid all the zaniness, she presents a solid lesson on prepositions as well. Nash's (Oh, Tucker!) crisp watercolors play a crucial supporting role here. His memorable animal actors (including the cool fiddle-playing cat, decked out in a black turtleneck, and the little laughing dachshund) remain fresh and funny, take after take, and their variety of facial expressions makes them all the more entertaining. Encore! Encore! Ages 3-7. (Sept.)