Deborah Blumenthal, , illus. by Mary GrandPré. . Dial, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2509-6

This volume is not so much about Aunt Claire or her hair as it is about the telling details that set each of young Annie's family members apart. Annie longs to know about her ancestors: "I want to reach into the past and bring them closer to me." With the help of her great-aunt, she does just that, sorting through photographs as well as such memorabilia as yellowed letters with faded handwriting and the lace wedding veil worn by her Swedish Great-Grandma Sophie. GrandPré (Pockets) effortlessly breathes life into these snippets of lives well lived. For instance, in a sepia-toned photograph, dashing Great-Grandpa Louis, who bet on horses, looks flirtatiously over at his wife, conveyed in a dreamy, smoky-blue image on the opposite page, who clearly returns his affection: "Great-Grandma Sadie stayed home/ and sewed tiny silver sequins onto dresses/ and baked twisted breads/ to make back the money/ that Great-Grandpa Louis lost." Blumenthal (The Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum) and GrandPré create an anecdotal album within an album, making bygone times shine brightly for both the heroine and readers. The artist (best known for the cover art and interior spots for the Harry Potter novels) whimsically mingles images of past and present in radiant pastel paintings, which range from comical to affecting. A family portrait to savor, this may well spark kids' interest in their own family trees. Ages 5-up. (May )