cover image The Things That Are Most in the World

The Things That Are Most in the World

Judi Barrett. Atheneum Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81333-7

In his debut children's book, Nickle brushes on five-alarm acrylics to set the stage for Barrett's (Pickles to Pittsburgh) energetically loony look at superlatives. Playing off such prize material as ""the jumpiest thing in the world is two thousand two hundred twenty-two toads on a trampoline,"" the artist employs a flamboyant arsenal of colors in a succession of excessive scenarios featuring a cast of oddball critters: a pink-beribboned pram-pushing mother flea (a dog collar is visible in the background), an ant windsurfing in a bowl of pea soup and a T-rex in underpants (weighing in as ""the heaviest thing in the world""). Nickle makes hay with Barrett's eccentric jokes, and the resulting delicious absurdities should inspire both giggles and creativity in readers, who are invited to fill in the blanks on the final page with their own ""thing that's most in the world."" Ages 3-7. (Apr.)