cover image Something Special

Something Special

Nicola Moon. Peachtree Publishers, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56145-137-1

Ayliffe's crayon-bright collage illustrations outshine Moon's predictable story about an African American boy whose mother is too busy with his newborn sister to help him find ""something special"" for show-and-tell. Especially animated when depicting Charlie's bustling classroom, the full-bleed art shows the other, more prepared students participating in a show-and-tell session with an extremely multicultural focus: Raju brings an Indian confection, Lu Mei a dragon kite from China, Shireen a sparkling sari. Back home, Charlie elicits his sibling's very first smile, which melts his resentment and solves his dilemma of what ""very, very special"" thing he will bring to school. Ayliffe enriches her collages' clean shapes with thoughtful details: fuzzy-looking, torn-paper stuffed animals are strewn around, tiny snippets of paper suggest the ribbed edges of Charlie's bulky sweater and the dragon kite is an explosion of firecracker-red and hot-pink squares linked with white paper ""string."" Even with the cheerful art, however, this offering from the collaborators of Lucy's Picture doesn't quite live up to its title. Ages 2-6. (Mar.)