cover image EMILY AND ALBERT


Jan Ormerod, , illus. by David Slonim. . Chronicle, $15.95 (36pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-3615-9

Offering five brief slice-of-life "chapters" about two idiosyncratic animal friends, Ormerod's (illustrator of Robie H. Harris's I Am NOT Going to School Today! ) and Slonim's (Oh, Ducky! ) picture book shares the pacing, subject matter and format of James Marshall's brilliant George and Martha books—and, unfortunately, suffers from the inevitable comparison. In the first entry, Emily, an ostrich, and Albert, an elephant, consider their noses; his trunk is good for all sorts of things, including "making showers and comforting a friend." But Emily is the opposite of jealous: "Never mind," she tells him in the last lines, "We can't all have a little nose with freckles." The final section has the most verve, but directly recalls one of Marshall's plots: Albert wants to read, and Emily objects, "I don't think it can be a good book if it makes others feel lonely while you are reading it." Taken individually, the chapters are mildly diverting, but a read-through underscores the one-note quality of both the friendship and the storytelling. Emily is always silly and insistent, and Slonim has a field day with her gangly body and overly bright eyes. Albert responds by being patient and humoring—which also makes him less compelling visually. Ages 4-8. (May)