cover image IF I WERE A LION


Sarah Weeks, , illus. by Heather M. Solomon. . S&S/Atheneum, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84836-0

"I'm sitting in my time-out chair/ because my mother/ put me there," pouts a girl with a mop of red hair and garden-gnome features. Her mother sweeps cold cereal from the floor: "You try my/ patience, child!/ I do not like it/ when you're/ wild." In Weeks's (Angel Face ) impish verse, the girl goes on to imagine the misdeeds of animals who really are wild: "If I were a lion,/ I'd growl and roar/ and knock the dishes/ on the floor." Solomon's (Clever Beatrice ) bold gouaches incorporate

computer-altered snips of animal fur and scales; sharp textures, layers of purple, jade and putty-colored wash jostle one another and the animal subjects for visual attention. In a succession of high-voltage spreads and vignettes, frogs zap flies from the dollhouse boudoir, raccoons get treed in the hat rack by alligators, and mountain goats come to eat the curtains. The redheaded narrator isn't in the least intimidated by the menagerie that appears before her; she claps her hands and howls along with the wolves, then shoves all the creatures into the toy box and greets her mother with a sweet smile. "Mother doesn't realize/ that lions don't apologize./ But when she does,/ then she will see,/ the opposite of wild is... me," she ends, with a treacly smile. While the girl's rebellion serves chiefly as a vehicle for Solomon's trippy, beguiling paintings, the punchy verse and wealth of visual detail will stand up to repeated readings. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)