cover image The Boy Who Lost His Belly Button

The Boy Who Lost His Belly Button

Jeanne Willis. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $14.95 (26pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-6164-3

When a tousled hair boy wakes up to discover that his belly button has gone missing, drastic measures are called for: he goes to the jungle to look for it. He questions one mammal after another--a radiantly orange lion, a dark, smoky elephant--only to find out that, in the words of the lion, each animal already has ""a perfectly good one of [its] own."" The parade of creatures shows off navels huge and teeny, striped and muddy. The crocodile, however, acts suspicious; a close inspection reveals that he's the culprit. The spread in which the boy tentatively wades naked into the swamp to retrieve his navel has a cinematic-like tension. Though the last page close-up shows that the boy's belly button has been returned to its rightful place, the ending comes abruptly. Still, this tale from a British team features a theme that endlessly fascinates youngsters, while implicitly explaining that all mammals have belly buttons, and Ross's luxuriant crayon and pastel landscape manages to evoke both the heat and exoticness of the setting. Ages 3-6. (Apr.)