Lenny Hort, Anita Louise Crane, , illus. by Anna Laura Cantone, adapted by Lenny Hort. . Watson-Guptill, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8230-1738-6

A seamstress loves a mechanic in Masini's (A Brave Little Princess) piece of Italian whimsy, but Filomena's big ideas about wedding gowns come between them. With her long, rubbery neck and a mass of black hair tied back with red ribbons, Filomena sews brilliantly for her customers but dreams in secret of her own splendid wedding gown. Filippo ("How tenderly he oiled the gears in Filomena's sewing machine"), meanwhile, summons his courage and proposes, but soon discovers that Filomena cares more about constructing her gown than she does for him. Artist Cantone (the Zara Zebra series) scatters rubber stamps, dotted lines, painted-over photographs and scraps of newspaper around her google-eyed figures, framed by graph paper and tape measures. Her witty images and cartoonish antics will tickle younger readers, and the sophistication of the compositions will divert adults. In the climactic spread, Filomena appears, almost hidden in a sea of lace; onlookers at the wedding snicker ("Is that thing a wedding dress or a wedding cake?"), and Filippo bolts. As Filomena takes off after him, shedding her finery ("She hustled out of her bustle"), Cantone covers the page with a road for her to run along, marked with spaces like a board game ("chicken crossing, lose a turn"; "a wedding gift, advance 3 spaces"). Filomena's story offers a charmingly offbeat setting for the lesson that love beats all. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)