Paul Many, , illus. by Scott Goto. . Walker, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8795-8

After a magician father bungles breakfast, magical hotcakes lead three hungry children on a wild chase in this rhyming tale of pancake pursuit: "We had no chance to stop them/ as they leaped up on their edges,/ skittered quickly out the door,/ and rolled right past the hedges." The children (and readers) spot the fleeing flapjacks posing as manhole covers, dog frisbees and wheels on in-line skates, and at one point, in an apparent nod to Magritte, they serve as umbrellas for some bowler-hatted citizens. At last, a backwards spell summons the pancakes home. In his first picture book, YA novelist Many (These Are the Rules) employs rhythmic, playful verse (the cakes take wing and become "batter-flies" at one point); an author's note points out that the words can be sung to the tune of "O, Susanna." Uneven type enclosed in blobs of batter reflects the frenzy, as do Goto's (Heat Wave!) dizzying close-ups. Far from appetizing in appearance, the gaping mouths and wide eyes on both people and animals and Goto's use of browns and eerie greens lend a portentous feel, and some parts are almost spooky (e.g., the father sports a fiendish smile and wild gaze when spellcasting amid flames and smoke). The hyperbolic art proves a curiously unsettling accompaniment for this escapist tale. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)