cover image Belching Hill

Belching Hill

Morse Hamilton. Greenwillow Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14561-3

Hamilton's (The Black Hen) spirited, briskly paced version of the wry Japanese folk tale also known as ""The Old Woman Who Lost Her Dumpling"" stages a humorous confrontation between a plucky heroine and the obstreperous ogres who live inside the hill below her home. When one of them steals the dumpling that was to be her supper, the old woman follows him underground, where a magic spoon lets her turn a few grains of rice into ""dumplings by the dozens,"" satiating the ravenous creatures--who then stretch out blissfully, clasping rotund tummies. Though they're much less happy when she makes off with both their spoon and enormous pot, the happy chef--now turned pro--lets the ogres keep whatever dumplings roll downhill with the announcement ""That one is for you, dears!"" In her motion-filled watercolor, gouache and colored-pencil art, newcomer Rogers moves effectively from an autumnal and pastel palette for renderings of the Japanese countryside to gaudy hues and a crowded format for the domain of the outlandish, multiple-eyed ogres. The creatures are more funny than frightening, rather like huge, toothy, horned, goggle-eyed puppies eagerly begging for a morsel. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)