cover image ONE FOR ME, ONE FOR YOU


C. C. Cameron, , illus. by Grace Lin. . Millbrook/Roaring Brook, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7613-1692-3

This dual-purpose tale turns the testy negotiations that swirl around two toddlers (a hippo and a crocodile), four cookies and three toy cars into teachable moments, proving the value of both simple math and sharing. "What? Stay back!" cries the crocodile when the hippo, the playdate host, tries to take the lion's share of cookies. "Don't take three!/ That won't make it fair for me." Splitting the sum in half calms the waters for a few pages, until the crocodile decides to exercise her guest's privilege and appropriate more cars: "One for me?/ You get the rest?/ Two for you,/ since you're the guest?" But when Mom confiscates the items and raises the possibilities of "No more cookies, cars, or friends," hippo figures out that by roping her into the game, everybody gets one car. With austere rhymes that bring to mind the elegance of an equation, Cameron captures the way choices delineate a toddler's world. But she also adds an intriguing layer of ambiguity by omitting quotation marks from the text—it's never quite clear whether the words are being spoken or thought. Lin's (The Ugly Vegetables) patterns of curlicues, stripes and flowers add another dimension to a palette predominantly painted in primary and tertiary colors. Her buoyant sense of design, utilizing geometric shapes, accentuates the mathematical themes as her characters stand out in bold relief against brightly patterned backdrops. Ages 2-6. (Apr.)