cover image Tickle Tum!

Tickle Tum!

Nancy Van Laan. Atheneum Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-83143-0

Here's a rhythmic rap for toddlers at mealtime. ""Uppa uppa/ time for suppa!"" begins Van Laan (So Say the Little Monkeys), as Pons's (Mouse Cleaning) sunny watercolor and pastel illustration shows a rabbit mother swooping her baby bunny into the high chair. Accompanied by a melange of nonsense words, pointed references to a choo-choo and dump truck, and occasional choruses of ""Tickle tickle tum tum,"" a typical mealtime ensues. The baby bunny attempts to feed a plush toy, throws string beans and hurls peas (""Tippa tip tat/ slinga finga bat,/ peas roll across the floor,/ pounce goes the cat!""), while Mama's dress ends up looking like a good advertisement for a prewash treatment. But Mama and Van Laan never miss a beat--even when the bunny puts a bowl of applesauce on its head, no clouds enter the picture and the text chirps, ""Upsy upsy, done with suppsy."" Parents, like the bunny mother, may be worn down by the relentless good cheer, but youngsters will cotton to the percussiveness of the words and escalating mess of Pons's double-spread vignettes. Ages 1-5. (Feb.)