Toni Buzzeo, , illus. by Margaret Spengler. . Dial, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2731-1

It's a beautiful sunny day, the water glimmers with blues and greens, and a downy little fellow thinks he has better things to do than keep pace with Mama Duck and his three siblings. "No! Quack! Quack! I won't catch up!" says the duckling, and with each request from his mother he finds new ways to tarry. At first, he just "dawdles and dreams" exchanging pleasantries with a friendly fish; but by the fourth admonition, he "dawdles and dreams, preens and plays, splashes and spins, dunks and dips." Spengler's (Clickety Clack) pastels radiate good cheer and possess a wonderful sense of volume and depth. She makes her ducklings' rounded, plump bodies (set off with natty straw hats) seem almost palpable as they glide through the silky water. Although the dawdling duckling's habits briefly place him in mortal danger (from a lurking crocodile), readers expecting a neat moral from Buzzeo's (The Sea Chest) upbeat text will be surprised—he leaps to safety on his mother's back, but there's no promise that he won't be up to his plodding tricks again. Young, incorrigible human dawdlers should find that immensely satisfying. Ages 2-6. (Jan.)