Kevin O'Malley, . . Walker, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8866-5

Young fans of irony-fortified humor will get a hoot out of O'Malley's snowy spoof. In a blinding blizzard—an evocative, icy watercolor swirl of purple, gray and green splattered with white blobs—the outerwear-swaddled hero bravely trudges through full-bleed spreads blanketed in knee-high drifts. "Must go on," he tells himself, eyes blazing while the rest of his face is sheathed by a scarf, but soon the resolve of this latter-day Shackleton fails. "Can't go on..." he says (for added drama, a word balloon contains the poignantly succinct plea, "Remember me") and collapses in the snow. And then, "Oh no... A Wolf! "—could this be the end of the intrepid hero? Readers will have already guessed that the answer is no (the illustration clearly depicts a friendly, floppy-eared hound). The boy finally lets his melodramatic mien slip, giggling at the animal's wet greeting, while earlier clues—a partially covered hydrant, tasseled hat and brightly colored backpack, plus a word balloon that reads "I told Mom this would happen"—make it comically clear that the stakes may not be as high as the narrator indicates. Finally, the "pole" in question is neither North or South, as O'Malley reveals in the punch line (after the boy is rescued by sled-toting friends bearing the good news that it's a snow day). Guaranteed to elicit giggles from any kid who has worn a snowsuit, this book should inspire new heights of ham. Age 4-7. (Oct.)