cover image Hey Willy, See the Pyramids: 7

Hey Willy, See the Pyramids: 7

Maira Kalman, Maira Kalman's Max. Viking Children's Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-82163-1

This book, by the illustrator of David Byrne's Stay Up Late , is one of the more unusual offerings of the season. Alexander has trouble falling asleep and begs his sister Lulu to tell him stories. ``How many?'' she asks. ``A million?'' ``No.'' ``Five?'' ``OK, five.'' Lulu begins her inventive, peculiar tales. Cross-eyed dogs, geniuses and bathing beauties pepper the landscape as Lulu weaves the familiar with the unfamiliar. ``Aunt Ida and Uncle Morris had a dog named Max. Max wanted to live in Paris and be a poet. In the evening Max would tiptoe down the hall, with a suitcase, trying to sneak out of the house. Ida would say to Morris, `Quick, Morris, catch the dog.' '' Later the dog sits in a cafe drinking black coffee and writing. ``Dig that boy with the box on his head. Is he buying bread? Is his name Fred?'' Kalman's unique illustrations are drawn from the far reaches of the imagination. The bizarre and the commonplace are mixed brilliantly, theatrically punctuated by black pages with the dialogue of the sleepy siblings shown in white type. Although this will not suit everyone, the stream-of-consciousness style is one that many will embrace uncritically, assisted by the colorful images and humorous figures that are scattered throughout. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)