Rita Golden Gelman, , illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky. . HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.99 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-688-16645-8

Gelman (More Spaghetti, I Say! ) and Zelinsky's (Rapunzel ) wholly original look at creativity begins with doodles on the endpapers and never stops. On the first page, a girl sits at a desk with a multi-colored pen and lined paper and starts free-associating. "Teachers teaching," she thinks, drawing a trio of instructors. "Fliers flying," she muses on the next spread, sketching fanciful airplanes and pilots—one riding on the back of a bird. Eventually she embarks on even more farfetched ideas. "Teachers teaching flying fliers" segues into "Fliers flying teachers," picturing aces soaring on the backs of airborne bespectacled instructors. "What? " laughs the girl, and allowing her imagination to lead where it may, she begins a new series of doodlings. Nothing in the text suggests that the narrative is all from the viewpoint of one doodler, but the book's genius lies in the combination of the seemingly stream-of-consciousness words and its visual equivalent—doodling. Any child who has ever taken crayon to paper will take heart in the message. As presented here, doodling is not the least bit aimless or absent-minded a task—but rather a means to experience genuine spontaneity, to stretch the boundaries of logic and organization. Sometimes the results can be unsettling (when one train of thought takes the girl through sketches depicting quarterbacks hurling cuddly koala bears, "Throwers throwing huggers," she shouts, "No! "). Mostly, however, the results are zany, intriguing and certainly deserving of the book's final word, "Wow! " Ages 5-up. (Aug.)