cover image Carnival


Mary-Claire Helldorfer, M. C. Helldorfer. Viking Children's Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-86687-8

What is there to do at a carnival? Lots, according to this high-energy tribute. With a smattering of rhyme, Helldorfer (Gather Up, Gather In) has distilled all of the sights, sounds, smells and activities of a carnival into a minimal, albeit power-packed text. Snappy verbs abound: ``Pitch it'' (a baseball at a dunk-tank target); ``Whack it'' (a hammer on a strength tester); ``Lick it'' (ice cream); ``Crack it'' (a peanut). Clever wordplay keeps the action absorbing: ``Toss and roll it'' (at a basketball shoot); ``Roll and toss it'' (pizza makers). Yaccarino (Big Brother Mike) concocts flat, graphic images in rich, carnival-food-inspired colors: cotton candy pinks and lavenders, hot dog orange, candy apple red, sno-cone blue. The alkyd paint medium suggests a density and frosting-like thickness. Carnival revelers, with rubbery bodies and doll-like, exaggerated heads, stare out from the pages with round, paint-dot eyes as if in a constant state of wonderment. As with a favorite ride, young readers will surely answer the final question, ``Hey... want to do it again?'' with a resounding Yes. Ages 2-7. (Mar.)