cover image Herbert: Five Stories

Herbert: Five Stories

Ivor Cutler. Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, $13 (42pp) ISBN 978-0-688-08147-8

A friendly format of oversize pages, wide-open spacing between lines of text and lively spot illustrations on each spread might prevent readers from guessing that this picture book is really chapter book length. Each funny story builds on the last one, relating the adventures of Herbert Clockfoote, a boy in the habit of waking up every morning as a different animal (chicken, elephant and kangaroo among them) and his friend Annie. The final surprise comes when Annie turns into an anaconda (a great big snake) and Herbert is just Herbert. These stories gallop along at a brisk pace; in comic pictures, Benson's bespectacled Herbert and scruffy Annie take all the changes matter-of-factly. Coolest of them all is Mrs. Clockfoote, who is only too willing to go to the library to look up the food type that Herbert might need for dinner. Ages 4-7. (September)