cover image ONE, TWO, THREE O'LEARY


Malachy Doyle, , illus. by Will Hillenbrand. . S&S/McElderry, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-85513-9

Doyle (The Bold Boy ) skips down memory lane for this dandy collection of ditties culled from his childhood in Ireland. As the book opens, Hillenbrand (Asleep in the Stable , reviewed Sept. 27) depicts a peacefully slumbering band of siblings. Tucked in their big fluffy bed, the 10 O'Leary kids seem a cute and cuddly bunch. But the peace and quiet do not last for long before the brood shows its rambunctious side. Jumping, climbing and flipping among the pillows and bedclothes, the children act as a lively backdrop for such traditional playground chants as "Eeny, meeny, macka racka,/ Em, oh, dominacka,/ Alla backa, sugaracka,/ Om, pom, push !" Mom (in her bunny slippers), Dad and the family cat and dog also join in the rumpus, enjoying themselves just as much as the wee ones. Though young readers may not be familiar with Doyle's particular verses, most kids will easily identify with the bouncy nursery-rhyme/childhood-game style. Hillenbrand expands his mixed-media technique to include elements of collage. As a result, several characters on different spreads pop with color, depth and motion, seeming about to tumble right off the page. Among the kicky details is a toothsome toy box at the foot of the bed rendered in spotted green; it opens and closes like a crocodile's mouth. The artist plants plenty of fun tidbits: counting up the O'Learys or locating their pets in any given scene offers some bonus amusement. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)