cover image Musical Chairs and Dancing Bears

Musical Chairs and Dancing Bears

Joanne Rocklin. Henry Holt & Company, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-2374-9

In an ingenious move, Rocklin uses the game of musical chairs to stress the notion of counting down, from 10 to one. Ten bears, dapper dressers all, play the game at a party, which, judging from debut illustrator de Matharel's zippy gouaches, is definitely an A-list event. The musical interludes are matched with different dances, from polka (``UMP-pah-pah / UMP-pah-pah'') to tap (``STAMP hop-shuffle-step'') to the exotic Russian kazachok (``YUM pum pum pum / Yada-lada pum pum''). All the while, a visual clue to the next bruin to be ousted from the festivities appears in the top margin of each spread: a black-and-white drawing lines up the bears and their chairs, the first spread including all 10 bears and nine chairs and each successive spread dropping one of each. Unfortunately, the spread of ``five dancing bears'' repeats the preceding marginalia, so that the lineup numbers six bears--an error sure to frustrate the target audience, and the only discordant note here. Ages 3-7. (Sept).