cover image SCRANIMALS


Jack Prelutsky, , illus. by Peter Sís. . HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-17819-2

The meisters of madcap are at it again. This time, Prelutsky and Sís (The Dragons Are Singing Tonight) head off on safari to Scranimal Island, an exotic spot full of odd hybrid creatures just ripe for their devious brand of silliness. Whether tracking a caravan of Camelberta Peaches ("All have humpy, bumpy backs,/ Stocked with water, juice, and snacks,/ So the creatures never need/ Wonder where to drink or feed"), avoiding the clutches of the dread Radishark ("Its appalling, bulbous body/ Is astonishingly red,/ And its fangs are sharp and gleaming/ In its huge and horrid head") or spying on the Bananaconda ("How sinuous and sly you are,/ How slippery, how yellow"), they scramble up a smorgasbord of flora and fauna. Prelutsky tweaks language with his characteristic glee, wedging in plenty of humor ("Poor Avocadodos,/ Ungainly and green,/ You're gone from today's/ Biological scene") and, as always when Sís is on board, his exquisite artistry raises the bar, adding depth to Prelutsky's light verse. Plying his trademark delicate line and crosshatching, Sís sets off the fantastic creatures against spare, expansive vistas, investing the muted ink-and-watercolor illustrations with a quizzically visionary style. A pair of brightly clad young explorers lurk at the edge of each scene, adding a droll visual grace note. All ages. (Sept.)