True Companions

The spunky canine from Dog's Colorful Day returns in Dog's ABC: A Silly Story About the Alphabet by Emma Dodd. In the beginning, "An apple falls on his head/ Dog barks, and a bird flies/ out of the apple tree." The words "apple" and "bird" appear in opposite corners of the spread, next to their upper- and lowercase initial letters. (Dutton, $14.99 32p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-525-46837-4; Jan.)

With her mother's help, Flo and her dog, Ebb, reunite a wayward baby seal with its waiting mother in Ebb & Flo and the Baby Seal by Jane Simmons. The misty watercolors perfectly suit the seaside setting of this duo's third outing. (S&S/McElderry, $16 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-689-84368-2; Mar.)

Just in time for the winter games, X.J. Kennedy follows up Elympics with Elefantina's Dream, illus. by Graham Percy. Here, the plucky pachyderm straps on her ice skates and, with the aid of a friend and the local ice man, not only makes the Elympic team, but completes a triple salchow, too. The crayon and colored pencil illustrations capture her hard work and triumph. (Philomel, $16.99 48p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-399-23428-4; Jan.)

In Froggy and friends' latest adventure, they enter a marching band contest, and Miss Martin's rules are clear: "Don't look left/ Don't look right/ And Don't stop for Anything!" So when they reach the reviewing stand, the obedient hero gets bonked in the head by Frogilina's falling baton in Froggy Plays in the Band by Jonathan London, illus. by Frank Remkiewicz. (Viking, $15.99 32p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-670-03532-7; Feb.)

Zuri describes in verse the summer that she and her best friend Danitra are separated in Danitra Brown Leaves Town by Nikki Grimes, a follow-up to Meet Danitra Brown. Floyd Cooper's luminescent pastels chronicle the long days and Zuri's many moods. (HarperCollins/Amistad, $15.95 32p ages 8-up ISBN 0-688-13155-7; Jan.)

Thomas Locker's Mountain Dance tells the story behind one of Earth's most majestic creations in this companion to Water Dance. Lush landscapes and brief lyrical text describe "fault-block," "shy dome" and "folded" mountains. Back matter provides more details about volcanoes, erosion and mountain ranges. (Harcourt/Silver Whistle, $16 32p all ages ISBN 0-15-202622-3; Nov.)

The team behind Bearobics partners up again in Bearum Scarum by Vic Parker, illus. by Emily Bolam. The rhythmic romp follows an ever-decreasing team of (initially) 10 men as they move through the jungle. (Viking, $14.99 32p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-670-03546-7; Feb.)

The space age series continues with First Graders from Mars Episode 2: The Problem with Pelly by Shana Corey, illus. by Mark Teague. Pod 1 is expecting a visit from a famous Martian opera singer, and pals Tera and Pelly draw pictures to decorate the classroom. "Your family is weird," Tera says, eyeing Pelly's family portrait; with "fluffernobbins" on their heads instead of tentacles, Pelly's family is unusual. But the appearance of the fluffernobbined diva helps Pelly to accept his differences. (Scholastic, $14.95 32p ages 5-7 ISBN 0-439-26632-7; Feb.)

What Natasha Anastasia Tarpley did for the mother-daughter bond in I Love My Hair! she now does for father and son in Bippity Bop Barbershop, illus. by E.B. Lewis. One full-bleed watercolor spread depicts three generations of men draped in purple barber's capes, each with his own distinguished hairstyle. (Little, Brown, $15.95 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-316-52284-8; Feb.)

As they did in Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children, husband-and-wife team Sandra L. and Myles C. Pinkney once again pair poetry and lively photographs in A Rainbow All Around Me. A multiethnic cast of children presents each color of the rainbow. For "Blue," photos of a blue-eyed, denim-clad boy accompanies "Cool/ Rugged/ Sippin' on a hot day/ Relaxing in the Breeze." A dark-eyed, bronze-skinned girl in a "Green" dress sits on "Fresh/ Soft blades [of grass]" with a basket of Granny Smith apples. (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $14.95 40p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-439-30928-X; Feb.)

Animal Instincts

Alain Crozon hits the jungle for the latest addition to the Who Am I? What Am I? series, Who Am I? Wild Animals!, which features 21 animal riddles. On the left, three riddles fit into colorful squares. "Fierce while hunting/ I'm yellow and black/ Jagged stripes/ decorate my back/ Who am I?" Liftable flaps on the right feature just one aspect of the creature (e.g., the stripes only). The full picture and the answer are underneath. (Chronicle, $7.95 14p ages 2-4 ISBN 0-8118-3321-6; Mar.)

Similarly, in Animal Patterns, one of two new Flip & Slide books by Cynthia Cappetta, illus. by Christine Mau, creatures can be identified by their distinctive patterns. The question, "Who has six legs/ and dots of black/ on the shiny red shell/ upon its back?" faces a full-bleed red-and-black dot design. Flip the book's cover and slide its laminated pages through the spine to read the answer. Counting Animals takes a cartoonish visual approach as it encourages kids to count the creatures hiding inside the illustrations. (Innovative Kids, $8.99 each 22p ages 3-6 ISBN 1-58476-078-8; -077-X; Oct.)

In Where Do the Animals Live?, illus. by Stephanie Peterson, one of two Turn & Discover titles, children move the arrow on the cover to unlock one of six animal habitats—sea, farm, backyard, Africa, rain forest and desert. Each double-page spread teems with creatures, some of which are hidden behind liftable flaps. A border of 10 labeled creatures encourages kids to find them in the bigger picture above. Where Will We Go Today?, illus. by Mary Thelan, follows the same format, featuring home, school, the market and more. (Innovative Kids, $12.99 each 12p ages 3-6 ISBN 1-58476-076-1; -075-3; Oct.)

In Who's in the Jungle? by Heather Gondek, illus. by Chris Gilvan-Cartwright, a companion to Who's on the Farm?, each spread shows three clues on the left, the final word of which is covered by an illustrated flap. Lift the flap to see the creature. (Piggy Toes, $9.95 10p ages 2-4 ISBN 1-58117-075-0; Mar.)

Nifty Gifts

"Somewhere in/ the world,/ a child opens a book/ At the same time, somewhere else.../ a pear falls/ to the ground..." Accompanied by thickly laid pastels on textured paper, each event gets equal treatment in Tom Tirabosco's lyrical paean to the power of the imagination and the wonder of books: At the Same Time. (Kane/Miller, $8.95 40p all ages ISBN 1-929132-17-4; Nov.)

Bonnie's big day gets special treatment in the paper-over-board Happy Birthday I'm 3 by Matteo Faglia. Painted on newsprint, Sophie Fatus's illustrations cast a thin veil over an Italian language paper. The hand-size volume provides space to paste a picture of party guests, list gifts and draw the birthday cake; opening and closing pages serve as a scrapbook. Also available: Happy Birthday I'm 4. (Kane/Miller, $7.95 each 48p ISBN 1-929132-09-3; -10-07; Nov.)

To better serve their audience, Happy Birthday I'm 1 and Happy Birthday I'm 2 are available in board book editions. ($6.95 each 16p -07-7; -08-5; Nov.)

Youngsters can gather memories and mementos for a handful of years as they go along, in My Birthday: Five Years of Celebrations by Lizi Boyd. Inside the lavender and light blue cover with matching satin ribbon, they can record remembrances of the past year (perhaps with the help of a parent) as well as birthday party particulars for each annual milestone, such as who attended, what they brought and the games they played. A sturdy back pocket holds souvenirs. (Chronicle, $15.95 64p ages 1-5 ISBN 0-8118-3271-6; Mar.)

"Backrest," "perfume sniffer," "hand warmer" and "phone buddy" are just four of Harriet Ziefert's 39 Uses for a Friend. The descriptive words and phrases accumulate in a heartfelt homage to best friends everywhere. Rebecca Doughty's deceptively simple line drawings vary the pacing, sometimes set in panels against bright, patterned borders and other times with four vignettes to a spread. (Putnam, $11.99 32p all ages ISBN 0-399-23616-3; Nov.)

Dear Old Dad

First published in Great Britain in 1986, That's My Dad by Ralph Steadman follows a funny description of a father from a child's vantage point. "That's my dad," begins the narrative. But, when questioned, the narrator describes characteristics that couldn't possibly belong to dear old Dad ("A fluffy tail?/ A trunk?"). The final portrait, combining all the silly features, will leave kids laughing and set their own imaginations spinning. (Andersen, [Trafalgar Sq., dist.] $8.95 paper 32p ages 6-9 ISBN 1-84270-011-1; Dec.)