cover image On the Morn of Mayfest

On the Morn of Mayfest

Erica Silverman. Simon & Schuster, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80674-2

Silverman (Mrs. Peachtree's Bicycle) revisits ""The House that Jack Built"" and makes of it a foundation for a merry olde English rite of spring. ""This is the lass/ with hair like a nest/ who walked in her sleep/ on the morn of Mayfest,"" she begins. Over country roads the waiflike girl, barefoot and in a white nightgown, trails toward the village on the hill, and in her wake collects such amusing characters as a sheepdog (""in mad pursuit"") who gooses the voluminous laundress (""who shouted, `You brute!' ''), three jesters (""juggling fruit"") and a monkey (""in tunic and boots""). It all culminates in a parade of kisses through the cobblestone streets of the town, where the sleeping girl finally awakens to announce herself Queen of the May. Frazee's (The Seven Silly Eaters) finely wrought acrylic ink drawings cover the right-hand page; they are lightly handled with slyly endearing details (the jesters wear dark glasses; the monkey swings by its tail from a lamppost). Decorated initials dress up most text pages in the pleasing book design. Silverman and Frazee form a happy, uncomplicated collaboration with a festive hint of history. Ages 3-8. (May)