Encore Performances

Young Bartholomew the bear once again teams up with the older, wiser George for In a Minute! by Virginia Miller. Bartholomew just wants to play, but George has many chores to go before the two can frolic... and nap (after a prolonged playtime). Miller once again captures a toddler's sense of make-believe and gets the loving rapport between this pair of bears just right. (Candlewick, $15.99 32p ages 2-4 ISBN 0-7636-1270-7; May)

The duo from Can You Do This, Old Badger? is back, this time for some heavy-duty fantasy play as the eponymous hero dresses up as a fearsome pirate in Little Badger, Terror of the Seven Seas by Eve Bunting, illus. by LeUyen Pham. Paintings in a woodsy palette brim with a sense of endless possibilities, making this book a fitting tribute to the timeless power of pretend. (Harcourt, $15 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-15-202395-X; May)

Pamela Duncan Edwards and Henry Cole, the creators of Some Smug Slug and Four Famished Foxes and Fosdyke, take on metamorphosis with Clara Caterpillar. "Grow up to be courageous and contented, Clara," calls a cream-colored butterfly to the egg she has laid on a cabbage leaf at the story's opening. After "crimson-colored Catisha" scorns Clara for her plain coloring, the heroine's camouflage saves the day. (HarperCollins, $15.95 40p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-06-028995-3; May)

Fans of Froggy will welcome Froggy Eats Out by Jonathan London, illus. by Frank Remkiewicz, featuring the hero in bow tie, suspenders and spats sized to fit his webbed feet. "Be neat, be quiet, and don't put your feet on the table," reminds Froggy's mom as he enters a fancy restaurant with his parents. This is not easy for Froggy, especially when he notices Frogilina at a nearby table. (Viking, $15.99 32p ages 2-7 ISBN 0-670-89686-1; May) The yellow dog and striped cat from Howdi Do and Bling Blang bring the same exuberance to this third picture book based on the lyrics of a Woody Guthrie song, My Dolly, illus. by Vladimir Radunsky. Here they are joined by a lively doll sporting a crystal teacup cap; she dances and flies across the brightly collaged pages as readers sing, "Tra-la-la-la-la-la-lo,/ And she looks like this." Music and lyrics included. (Candlewick, $12.99 24p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-7636-0770-3; May) After playing hide-and-seek in Toby, Where Are You?, the hero now uses his body and props to disguise himself in Toby, What Are You? by William Steig, illus. by Teryl Euvremer. Children can guess along with Toby's mother and father as the fellow turns into a pair of scissors, a banana sandwich and a wobbly coffee table. Cozy family scenes may well inspire youngsters to join the fun. (HarperCollins/Cotler, $14.95 32p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-06-205169-5; May)

Dr. Laura Schlessinger, author of Why Do You Love Me? and But I Waaannt It! has penned another vehicle for families to explore their psychological feelings together. In Growing Up Is Hard, illus. by Daniel McFeeley, Sammy screams, "Nothing is wrong! Everything is wrong! I just hate my life! " Sammy's father helps him look at his problems in a positive light and reassures Sammy that growing up can be hard, but also meaningful. (HarperCollins/Cliff Street, $15.95 40p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-06-029200-8; May) Children can now read about best friends Toot & Puddle in a miniature boxed set, Toot & Puddle: Welcome to Woodcock Pocket by Holly Hobbie. The three adventures are Toot & Puddle, in which the two pals remain close while they are apart from each other; Toot & Puddle: A Present for Toot, in which Puddle searches for the perfect gift; and in Toot & Puddle: You Are My Sunshine, Puddle tries everything to cheer up his friend. Hobbie's signature watercolors shine through the small pages. (Little, Brown, $14.95 32p each ages 4-8 ISBN 0-316-36703-6; Apr.) Cyndy Szekeres's popular mouse returns in two new board books. In Toby's Please and Thank You, the author/artist presents basic manners (please, thank you, be patient and I'm sorry) in a rhyming text, and pictures preschoolers having fun being polite. After saying good night to his ears, tummy, whiskers, etc., Toby feels sleepy in Toby's Good Night and closes with, "Shhh!/ Turn off the light./ Soft, tickly kisses.../ Good night, now,/ good night." (S&S/Little Simon, $4.99 each 14p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-689-84275-9; -84274-0; May) After hitting the big city for the first time in Spike in the City, the black-and-white pooch has his first overnight away from home in Spike in the Kennel. He realizes that the kennel is not so bad after all when he sneaks out at night to play Frisbee with the other dogs. (Putnam, $12.99 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-399-3594-9; May)Cricket magazine's "Click and the Kids" star in their own picture book, Click and the Kids Go Sailing by Charnan Simon, illus. by Richard Kolding, the first title in a new series. In this adventure, Martin, Amy, Click and Liz, the babysitter, climb aboard the Bumblebee for some smooth and rough sailing; nautical terms and a diagram of a sailboat teach aspiring sailors the ropes. (McGraw-Hill/Cricket, $12.95 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 1-57768-885-6; May) In two more adventures about Mop from Ladybug magazine, Mop's Mountain Adventure and Mop's Birthday Picnic by Martine Schaap, illus. by Alex de Wolf, Justin and Julie pretend to take a train to the Rockies and Mop becomes various wild creatures that they encounter; related crafts and games included. In the second title, birthday surprises are sprinkled throughout and picnic party ideas are included. (McGraw-Hill/Cricket, $12.95 each 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 1-57768-881-3; -882-1; May) And finally, the girl-and-cat duo from Ladybug magazine returns to plant Grandma's vegetable seeds in Molly and Emmett's Surprise Garden by Marylin Hafner. The volume concludes with directions for young green thumbs to start their own "Ready-Set-Grow Garden." (McGraw-Hill/Cricket, $12.95 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 1-57768-895-3; May)

Concepts Made Fun

Youngsters can play peekaboo with the boy in Who's That Scratching at My Door? by Amanda Leslie, and guess at the animal growling ("big brown bear") or squeaking (a "tiny white mouse") on the other side. Sound clues and a peek at a part of the animal offer hints, and bright, boldly outlined illustrations should keep the pages turning. (Handprint [Chronicle, dist.], $12.95 24p ages 3-6 ISBN 1-929766-19-X; Apr.) Aspiring mathematicians learn about numbers and basic mathematical concepts in First Number Book byPatty Barber, illus. by Mandy Stanley. A variety of tasks such as, "Count the sides on each shape," "How many wheels can you see?" and "Can you count 15 of one thing?" utilize numbers up to 20. Other spreads ask children to look at numbers in familiar settings (e.g., "Are there enough for the party?" and "In what order do you get dressed?") Includes suggestions for parents and a poster. (Kingfisher, $12.95 48p ages 2-up ISBN 0-7534-5338-X; Apr.) Who? by Colin and Jacqui Hawkins turns counting to 10 into a game. A pair of numbers is presented in a rhyme with a clue: "Who found the slipper left behind on the stairs? The Ugly Sisters said it was theirs." Three choices appear on a flap with the answer underneath, "It was Prince Charming who came to call,/ carrying the slipper last at the ball." Children can go from one to 10 all over again on the last pages, which briefly recap the number rhyme and the objects seen. (Barron's, $9.95 ages 2-5 ISBN 0-7641-5341-2; Apr.)

Inside World Championship Wrestling

From Goldberg ("The Man") to Scott Steiner (aka "Big Poppa Pump" and "the Big Bad Booty Daddy") to the completely made up "Sting," Dorling Kindersley's WCW: The Amazing Guide presents an insider's view with full-color photographs and brief stats on each wrestler. In addition to the big-name heavyweights, the volume also discusses successful tag teams, cruiserweights and the women who sit ringside-and, in the case of Daffney, even compete. (DK, $12.95 48p ages 8-up ISBN 0-7894-7350-X; Apr.)