What happens when kindergarteners are left to their own devices in the classroom? In Hamilton’s (Polly’s Picnic
) rowdy story, the answer is something akin to mutiny. Miss Tuck, a teacher unfortunate enough to get stuck in the class jungle gym, watches in dismay as her pupils turn the room upside down in glee. “ 'Early lunch, I do declare!’/ Called Louis from the teacher’s chair.... 'I know what,’ cried clever Clive./ 'Let’s push the oven down the slide!’ ” (The stove knobs of the toy oven offer a worried expression as its pots and pans tumble out on the way down.) Smiling, brightly dressed students jump in a wading pool, pour glue over the tables and “paint the paper,/ paint the floor,/ paint the windows,/ paint the door.” The mischievous spree continues until things eventually go south: “Then Pip tripped Kip,/ who hurt his lip./ And Milly and Tilly,/ got sat on by Lilly.” Uncomplicated, sometimes forced rhymes bounce along with the raucous romp. The vibrant hues of Heap’s (What Shall We Play?
) animated acrylics offer a cheery note, despite the somewhat unsettling message that youngsters don’t come to the aid of someone in trouble but instead ignore pleas for help. And though the children work together in the end to free their teacher, this kiddie Lord of the Flies
scenario may tickle tots’ subversive sides, but will do little to assuage those who are nervous about starting preschool. Ages 3-6. (July)