cover image Sometimes I Wonder If Poodles Like Noodles

Sometimes I Wonder If Poodles Like Noodles

Laura Joffe Numeroff. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80563-9

The title of Numeroff's (If You Give a Pig a Pancake) uneven collection of verse represents the first line of her opening poem, which goes on to speculate: ""Do lions use irons,/ Can chickens read Dickens,/ Do horses take courses,/ Can beavers be weavers...."" Unfortunately, its whimsy and lively cadence appear in few of the subsequent poems, all written in the voice of a cheerful girl. Aided considerably by Bowers's (Six Voyages of Pleasant Field Mouse) lifelike oil paintings, the verses do capture the child's likable personality. Yet they come up short in both inventiveness and composition. For instance, despite its kid-pleasing theme, ""On Halloween"" reads as a lackluster listing of costumes worn by the narrator's friends. On a number of occasions, rhythm falters and rhyme schemes get lost, as in the inaugural stanza of ""A Day at the Beach"": ""This summer when I go to the beach/ I'd like to collect some shells./ I'll string them together and hang them at home/ So when the wind blows they'll sound like bells."" Bowers's illustrations provide a narrative through line, incorporating various members of the girl's household as well as images that range from the fanciful (a meticulously clipped poodle slops up pasta, a beaver happily weaves a basket) to the realistic (at bedtime, the girl perches on her bed, hugging her dolls and stuffed animals). This book's graphics will linger in children's memories longer than its verse. Ages 4-8. (May)