cover image The Hullabaloo ABC

The Hullabaloo ABC

Beverly Cleary. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15182-9

As its title suggests, the energy level of this alphabet storybook runs high, thanks in part to Cleary's choice of verbs (""Flutter,"" ""Jabber,"" ""Rumble""), lively onomatopoeic sounds (""Kerchoo!"" ""Putt-putt,"" ""Toot-toot"") and animal noises (""Hee-haw,"" ""Quack-quack"") that lead off these 26 brief verses. Rand's (Knots on a Counting Rope) hearty watercolors endow the volume's clamorous crew--a spunky trio of siblings and the animal residents of their farm--with particular appeal. Ranging from panoramic views of a timeless rural setting to close-ups of kids and critters, Rand's pictures document the antic proceedings, until a thunder storm arrives and the children are summoned back to the farmhouse. Occasional lazy rhyme schemes (e.g., rips/trip; racket/whack it) and lapses in rhythm (""N for Noises,/ Clucks and cackles./ A hawk!/ It scatters the hens/ And makes them squawk"") trip the tongue. Still, Cleary teaches as she tells her story, and Rand's art is consistently diverting--a winning combination in a preschool read-aloud. Ages 3-up. (Apr.)