cover image OLLY AND ME


Shirley Hughes, . . Candlewick, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2374-6

Hughes (Annie Rose Is My Little Sister ) once again proves she's in tune with the preschool set with another welcoming book about a pair of young siblings and their shared experiences. This time, it is a big sister, Katie, who matter-of-factly narrates a collection of poems and anecdotes. Brother Olly is an omnipresent part of both the ordinary routines and special moments, whether it's pancake-making or car rides or a museum trip with Dad. In "Old Bones," Katie ponders a huge dinosaur skeleton: "When Olly and I are standing/ under its tail, looking at its/ great teeth, I wonder what/ it would be like to meet/ an alive one./ But Dad says there/ were no people/ living in the world then./ Luckily." A few of the pieces, like "People in the Pond," seem awkward with more adult phrasing ("Down below, the fish glide,/ gray and silver,/ .../ then suddenly diving,/ with a brisk whisk of their tails,/ while the little fish slip in and out like ripples." A decidedly British flavor won't hamper readers' understanding or sympathies: "Olly doesn't know how to dance properly yet. I didn't much like it when he joined in," Katie declares in "Olly Joins In," set during her ballet class. Hughes's realistically detailed illustrations, alive with color and line in her trademark style, splash across pages, bordering and breaking up text. An effective glimpse into a child's family life. Ages 3-7. (May)