cover image Clap Clap!

Clap Clap!

Mary-Claire Helldorfer. Viking Children's Books, $13.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-85155-3

A girl with shining blond hair, a toddler who could be the girl's younger sibling, and a dark-haired youngster whose features appear vaguely Asian are the stars of this gently buoyant, religious picture book. Each spread is filled by Speidel's misty pastels and a sentence or two of Helldorfer's spare, haiku-like verse (``Touch candle to candle. He changes air to petals of light''). Even the two drawings that feature the children in downcast moments exude an irrepressible zest for life. Some of the images tend toward the unrealistically pristine, e.g., the tow-headed girl's frilly white dress never seems to get smudged, even after a day spent frolicking outside. Nevertheless, this volume is far sweeter than it is sugary, thanks largely to its exuberance. Ages 2-7. (Oct.)