Bob Graham, . . Candlewick, $16.99 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2324-1

Graham (Max ) paints an African waterhole as a hive of activity, especially during a hot summer, and especially for the quirkily charming cast of animal pals in this illustrated collection of five related tales. Morris the crocodile finds no shortage of fun "mess[ing] around down at the waterhole" even if he has to look after his younger brother Little Bob or sometimes wait for his best friend Billy, a tortoise, to catch up. Whether he's rounding up a game of soccer (only to compete against a surprise team of moms) or trying to impress his first crush, Wendy Warthog, Morris approaches each lazy, hazy day with admirable gusto. Graham pulls out all his signature strengths—amusing and believable scenarios; gentle, kid-like emotional underpinnings; and some belly-laugh humor—to keep these stories on a roll. Waldo Wildebeest's description of his family's impending vacation is particularly hilarious. Readers graduating from picture books to chapter books will find this an enjoyable transition, and Graham fans will not be disappointed. Snappy ink-and-watercolor vignettes provide perfect accompaniment for the text; the array of colorful animal bathing suits alone is worth poring over the pictures again and again. Ages 4-8. (May)