cover image Busy, Busy City Street

Busy, Busy City Street

Cari Meister. Viking Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-88944-0

Brisk rhymed sentences, punctuated by a catchy refrain, give this traffic book a vigorous stop-and-go rhythm. Every spread buzzes with pedestrian and vehicular activity. The fanciful urban images include bulbous 1930s-style cars, old-fashioned buses and antique velocipedes. As the pace quickens, the occasional elephant, horse or gondola passes by. Meister (the Tiny easy readers) alternates couplets (""Dumpster truck lost a load./ Garbage mess in the road"") with an anxious ""Honk! Honk! Beep! Beep!/ Busy, busy city street."" Guarnaccia, whose Goldilocks and the Three Bears: A Tale Moderne revisited 1950s design, creates a stylized Art Deco cityscape and hand-letters the entire text in tall, rectangular characters. The velvety palette of olive, rust and gold contrasts with tight angles and solid black details, and the atmosphere is charged. Hurried travelers move in an environment of strong directional lines--bold diagonals intersect horizontal curbs and vertical skyscrapers, and traffic flows left to right. Meister's rushing words and Guarnaccia's visually intense compositions excite the nerves like an authentic noisy street. The book ends on a couplet rather than on the ""Honk! Honk! Beep! Beep!"" chant, but wide-awake readers will remedy that omission. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)