cover image One Big Pair of Underwear

One Big Pair of Underwear

Laura Gehl, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. S&S/Beach Lane, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-5336-4

Though nominally about underwear, always an attention getter, Gehl’s debut offers lessons in counting and cooperation. In each example, the number of desirable items (“FIVE flat mats”) is too few for the animals that want them (“SIX fat cats”), and one leaves disappointed (“One fat cat thinks, Rats! Rats! Rats!”). Absurdity reigns. Five goats cannot apportion four jars of candy, nine ducks have only eight hockey sticks, and the underwear of the title is coveted by “TWO brown bears who hate to share.” At last, 20 pigs demonstrate, albeit dangerously, that they all can use 10 playground slides at the same time, and the rest of the animals pool their resources too: “Goats and ducks share candy bars,/ hockey fun, and empty jars.” Gehl’s tongue-twisting rhymes bounce along winningly, and Lichtenheld (This Is a Moose) gamely pictures the silly activities, from water-skiing cows and scooter-riding seals to twin bears stuffed into a single pair of Y-fronts. This amusing tale of sharing eschews the preachy and relies on nonsense to get readers giggling. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Amy Rennert, Amy Rennert Agency. (Sept.)