cover image FOLLOW THE LEADER!


Emma Chichester Clark, . . S&S/ McElderry, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84296-2

Clark's (I Love You, Blue Kangaroo!) copycatters' romp starts out as a pas de deux between a boy and his dog, but it soon evolves into an unusual conga line, with a cat, hen, goose, rabbit, duck, pig and sheep joining in: "Up the hill,/ puffing and panting,/ follow the leader!/ Round the corner,/ jumping and jiving,/ follow the leader!" With all the animals following on two legs, the ever-growing parade takes on a comically balletic mien—in one vignette, the players cross a stream while making ersatz-Egyptian arm movements. The delicately flower-dappled and distinctively British landscapes—a country lane, a formal garden—provide a nifty visual foil to the silliness. But when the group reaches a deep, verdant wood, they discover one more animal wants to play: a huge, roaring tiger, whose orange stripes, white teeth and ferociously wide eyes flash like a warning sign. The quick-thinking boy appoints the tiger as leader, on one condition: "You must not turn around!" As the group reverses its course, the followers make their escape one by one, until the tiger disappears, solo, into the sunset. Readers may wonder if the tiger deserves to be the butt of the joke, since he seems to embrace the game without an ulterior motive, but the powerful visual rhythms and offbeat humor are likely to capture their attention. Ages 3-6. (Feb.)