cover image A Nickel Buys a Rhyme

A Nickel Buys a Rhyme

Alan Benjamin. HarperCollins, $15 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-06698-7

There is an agreeably old-fashioned air to some of these rhymed and rhythmical poems, in which a mother ``bakes a pudding, / warm and sweet'' or tucks her child in bed with a lullaby that ends, ``Safe in your bed / with nothing to fear, / God's in His heaven, / and Mama is here.'' More suitable for preschoolers than for older children, the poems are alternately dreamy and funny, silly and sly, and feature boys who dream of riding rocket ships and girls who talk about having picnics with ``just you and your teddy, / my dolly and me.'' Schmidt's ( You Be Good & I'll Be Night ) clever, exuberant watercolors lend substance and humor to the brief, sometimes sentimental verses. The comical naughtiness of ``Helen Hipsway / did a dance, / wiggled so much / she lost her pants,'' for example, is underscored by an insouciant alligator heroine who loses her red drawers to reveal lacy, heart-decked underpants as two prudish alligators look on. Frequently suggesting the silliness of Ogden Nash, this lighthearted collection scores high marks. Ages 4-up. (Mar.)