cover image The Adventure of Louey and Frank

The Adventure of Louey and Frank

Carolyn White. Greenwillow Books, $14.95 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-688-16503-1

Two quarrelsome friends go to sea in this sly puzzler, which playfully refuses to provide closure. At first, even the characters' identities are in doubt. Louey and Frank appear to be stuffed animals who board a floating pair of pink tennis shoes. The indirect narrative offers clues to who's who (""Louey waved at the fishes. Frank tossed marshmallows at the birds""), while the placid pictures present a white rabbitish fellow and a brown teddy bear with wide-open button eyes and a startled pink o for a mouth. When the sailors encounter a ""blue and humpy"" shape in the water, they debate whether it's a whale or a rock; when they see a spiny brown object, they disagree over whether it's a fish or a log. White remains coy about the truth of the matter, and she plays on words to emphasize the nonsense; as Louey and Frank sit atop the whale-rock, ""It rolled. `Hold on tight,' said Louey. `The rock's rocking.' "" Dronzek's (Oh!) sedate acrylic paintings reveal isolated details like a target-shaped eye or a mouthful of blunt teeth, but never show an entire ocean creature; neither Louey nor Frank is absolutely correct. For all the quirky mystery, the volume exudes gentleness and mimics an occasionally silly game of let's-pretend. Ages 4-up. (Feb.)