cover image  Five for a Little One

Five for a Little One

Chris Raschka, . . Atheneum/Jackson, $16.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84599-4

Raschka, composer of such visual-musical interludes such as John Coltrane's Giant Steps , explores all five senses here. The "little one" of the enigmatic title is a young bunny who's urged to experience "flowers and foods, oceans and woods," in the lived environment. The alert rabbit looks ("See the sunsets, skylines, mountains,/ sidewalks, fountains") and listens ("Did we mention sounds surround you?... All that ringing will astound you"). The asymmetrical rhymes direct the rabbit to delicious experiences ("Lucky tongue, taste and try/ this berry pie") and encourage movement ("Playful paws, pounce and touch./ There is so much/ for you to feel"). Raschka creates graceful, Zen-like spreads. Minimalist brushstrokes of India ink form the rabbit's floppy ears and loose body; potato-print stamps of leaves, feathers, triangles and multicolored dots dance across the pages, and drops of watercolor paint and ink on wet paper blossom into fuzzy-edged pastel circles. The illustrations imply Raschka's focus on simplicity and natural materials, and the style could be imitated at home or in an art room. In the warm conclusion, the black-and-white spotted "little one,/ who comes from two" bounces to the waiting arms of a black rabbit and a white one; the parents join in by playing the fiddle and plucking some flowers. Raschka's easygoing rhymes and pay-attention-to-your-world theme recall Margaret Wise Brown classics like The Noisy Book , while his tactile art causes a sensation. Ages 2-5. (Aug.)