cover image A Most Unusual Lunch

A Most Unusual Lunch

Robert Bender. Dial Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1710-7

If five-year-olds ran publishing companies, there'd be a lot more books like Bender's (A Little Witch Magic): funny, breezy stories attended by preternaturally bright illustrations, shackled by no adult agenda whatsoever. This frothy frolic through the food chain begins with a frog eating a beetle. The next day the frog discovers two antennae on his head and six tiny new legs. The frog is then eaten by a fish who grows the beetle's parts and frog legs, too, and so on up the food chain to the lion. When the lion burps up his meal, there begins a series of happy reversals that ends in a big celebration wherein all the creatures try out a vegetarian regime-``until... the frog [shown eying a beetle] thought he might like dessert! The End?'' Pencil, vinyl animator's paint, and black paper collaborate in making these zany creatures seem as though they could pop right off the page. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)