cover image The Missing Tarts

The Missing Tarts

B. G. Hennessy. Viking Children's Books, $12.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-670-82039-9

The Knave of Hearts's theft of tarts launches the Queen of Hearts on a search that involves Jack and Jill (``Let's look up the hill''), Old King Cole (``Not in my bowl''), Old Mother Hubbard (``Check the cupboard'') and other Mother Goose characters. Finally, with everyone joining the hunt, ``Here's a clue!'' said Little Boy Blue, as he holds out a tart. The Knave, who proves himself a soft touch, has fed the tarts to all of the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe's children. Hennessy, who last imagined The Dinosaur Who Lived in My Backyard , has turned a familiar nursery rhyme landscape splendidly upside down, in verse that sails along. She is generously aided by Pearson's zany, racing gangcherubic faces adorn this happy crowd, well-placed and well-paced throughout. Ages 3-8. (Mar.)