cover image A Carnival of Animals

A Carnival of Animals

Sid Fleischman, Marylin Hafner. Greenwillow Books, $15.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-688-16948-0

A half dozen newly minted tall tales chronicle the merry havoc wreaked by a ""no-account little tornado"" that touches down on Barefoot Mountain. In the opening story (""The Windblown Child""), a group of friendly woodland animals rally round an odd, pink, hairlessDor featherless, they can't tellDcreature (""It could be a newborn pig"" one observes) who blows in from the nearby mountain. She turns out to be a rare ""Sidehill Clinger"" (her disproportionate legs, ideal for climbing steep slopes, are the giveaway). In a neat little coda, her missing fleece turns up in the final story atop the head of a bald farmer. Other memorable characters include the star of ""Emperor Floyd,"" a rooster, who develops insomnia and a taste for fireflies in the storm's aftermath and ends up a porch light, and ""Stumblefrog,"" a clumsy frog who finds a torn sack of Mexican jumping beans, swallows them, then leaps and soars with the best of them. Fleischman (Bandit's Moon) displays his nimble wit with descriptions of a gale that shakes trucks ""like dice"" and a sly hawk named Thump Oswald who is ""slick as bear grease."" The glee with which he relates his outrageous yarns is infectious, and Hafner (the Lunch Bunnies books) seems to have caught it, too. Overflowing with the critters and varmints the stories conjure up, her jaunty watercolor and pen-and-ink vignettes create a jaunty counterpoint. Ages 7-up. (Sept.)