cover image ROBIN'S ROOM


Margaret Wise Brown, , illus. by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. . Hyperion, $14.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0602-7

This uneven vision of a child's ideal room joins the many and mixed posthumous works by Brown (Two Little Trains; The Dirty Little Boy) already on the bookstore shelf. Robin, an artistic soul, "sawed legs off of chairs./ And he planted flowers in the bathtub." He needs his own room, but when his parents proudly create for him a bedroom in a gauzy rainbow motif, he hates it. "He stamped his foot so hard that his shoe fell off…./ 'Give me three carpenters, please,' said Robin…./ 'Why not?' said his mother. 'A child's room made by a child.' " However, with its sturdy workbench, spill-proof painting center and flower-filled reading window (all built by three adult carpenters and, weirdly, one giraffe), Robin's perfect space is little more than a grown-up's fantasy of childhood. Johnson and Fancher's (My Many Colored Days) warm frescoes of sky blue and spring green have a sunny charm. The illustrators toy bravely with the layout, supporting Robin's decorating scheme of "turning the fronts of everything to the back" by letting readers flip the book over and read "backward" for several pages; unfortunately, this assisted fun, like Robin's room, lacks the appearance of spontaneity. Ages 4-8. (May)