cover image The Adventures of Isabel

The Adventures of Isabel

Ogden Nash, , illus. by Bridget Starr Taylor. . Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.95 (30pp) ISBN 978-1-4022-1027-3

Nash’s (1902–1971) invincible heroine, memorably incarnated in James Marshall’s 1991 picture book with the same title, kicks off the publisher’s Poetry Telling Stories Collection. Isabel is a good candidate for showing kids the storytelling prowess of a poem: confronted with a child-eating bear, “Isabel, Isabel, didn’t worry./ Isabel didn’t scream or scurry./ She washed her hands and she straightened her hair up,/ Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.” (She dispenses similar treatment to a wicked witch and a “horrid” one-eyed giant.) Two elements stand out: this edition includes an audio CD of the poem as read by Nash, and it omits the moralizing stanzas that appeared in Marshall’s book (“Don’t scream when the bugaboo says, 'Boo!’/ Just look it in the eye and say, 'Boo to you!’ ”) on the grounds that they were written decades later and are excluded from the official version by Nash’s estate. Where Nash reads in an elegant deadpan style, Taylor’s watercolors go for outsize gestures and a high-contrast palette. She throws in a visual story line to connect all of the “adventures”; children will enjoy finding the links, even though one simply vanishes at the end. The AMA might appreciate Taylor’s sunny conclusion, too: instead of vanquishing a “troublesome” doctor, Isabel befriends him. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)