Niamh Sharkey, Sharkey, . . Candlewick, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2182-7

Fans of silly wordplay will gobble up this tale of a Ravenous Beast who announces he's the "hungriest animal of all." To prove it, he takes a chomp out of a house. "Nonsense! Smonsense!" cries a "little white mouse," one of a merry menagerie that try to out-eat the Beast and each other by nibbling everything in sight (" 'Hokum! Pokum!' said the marmalade cat. 'I'm as hungry as can be. I'm so hungry I could eat a bucket, a spade, and some pink lemonade' "). The animals' goofy retorts ("Moo! Moo! Malarkey!"; "Flip! Flap-doodle!") add a fun touch, plus kids will giggle over the ever-more-random, bite mark–bedecked objects that the animals "woof down" (a polka-dot sock, a trombone with a dent, a treasure map). Sharkey (The Gigantic Turnip) floods the story with whimsical compositions that echo the work of Joan Miró in their delicate detailing. The color-saturated pictures in swirling brushstrokes play off simple shapes, complemented by well-designed typography. Sharkey builds adroitly to the subversive climax, when the Ravenous Beast decides to eat his rivals for supper, growling, "Gobble you up! Swallow you down!" From start to finish, a feast for young readers. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)