cover image Picnic


John Burningham. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6945-4

Displaying his signature sly humor, Burningham (Tug of War) follows a boy and girl (conveniently named Boy and Girl) as they try to find a place to picnic with friends Sheep, Pig, and Duck, who are dapperly accented with kerchiefs, hats, bowties, and other accessories. The five quickly hit a snag (“But they had not seen Bull”), and they race to the woods to hide from him. Burningham directly engages readers on multiple occasions through search-and-find questions, asking them to spot the would-be picnickers hiding behind trees and, subsequently, to find Sheep’s hat, Pig’s ball, and Duck’s scarf. The items are easy to spy, tailoring the challenge to younger preschoolers, while pithy sentences and easy-to-grasp vocabulary will help beginning readers sound out the sentences. Vivid, springy greens and yellows, coupled with loose and exuberant black outlines, lend vibrancy and airiness to Burningham’s paintings. As the day winds down and the weary cast retires for the night, a final question (“Shall we see if we can find your bed?”) offers a pointed lead-in to readers’ own bedtimes. Ages 2–5. [em](May) [/em]