cover image Beware Beware

Beware Beware

Susan Hill. Candlewick Press (MA), $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-245-5

The lure of the world beyond the window proves irresistible for the pinafored heroine of this beautifully paced picture book. Mother is at the stove (``Kitchen's warm. / Smells of spice'') as her daughter wonders, ``But what's out there?'' Brief phrases capture the essence of each scene while Barrett's ( The King, the Cat, and the Fiddle ; The Snow Queen , reviewed below) smudged pastels shimmer with potential: outside the world smolders pink, a sunset in winter. Hill ( The Glass Angels ) cleverly contains both the child's excitement and fear in her refrain, ``Beware, beware.'' Once the girl has slipped outside, the woods beckon. There danger lurks and the artwork turns subtler, more intricate. Mossy trees fill with eyes and fingers: ``Wolf / Bear / Dragon's lair. / Beware! Beware!'' Hill's choice of language is meticulous, her work so carefully crafted as to magnify the import of each word, its resonance and its associations. Versatile full-spread illustrations, delicate and haunting, reflect and enhance the text. The movement from the poetic calm of the salmon pink sky to the frenzy within the wood is graceful and realistic. Split pages in two spreads allow Hill and Barrett to intensify still further the suspense of their wintry drama. Ages 3-up. (Sept.)