A Book and More!

With more than 50 games and activities, My First Game Board Book by Shereen Gertel Rutman, illus. by Julie Clough, contains a padded foam gameboard, spiral-bound book with pullout gameboard overlays and magnetic play scenes. With bright colors and bold design, it's a kid pleaser. (Innovative Kids, $19.99 Ages 3-6 ISBN 1-58476-094-X; Apr.)

Animal Tales by Ellen Florian, illus. by CD Hullinger, joins the Puppet Playhouse series. A box that acts as a stage allows youngsters to insert their fingers into an opening in the box, and a "glove" inside has a cartoonish character in bold black line for each finger. The plays are included in a spiral-bound "playbook" on the front of the "stage." (Innovative Kids, $19.99 ISBN 1-58476-103-2; Apr.)

Secret agents in the making will appreciate the Spy Master mission kit. Inside the box (camouflaged as a book) are dark "rearview" glasses and fake moustache, two secret decoder markers and more. A pair of booklets ("Secret Missions" and "Secret Codes") comes tucked in the front flap. (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $12.95 32p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-439-32540-4; Mar.)

Animals to Touch

Two new Animal Snuggles board books by Lynn Otterman, illus. by Rusty Fletcher, flaunt fuzzy covers with floppy felt accents depicting the eponymous creature's features. In Cuddly Chick, the star seeks shelter from the rain (felt wings extend from the cover); Fluffy Bunny finds the little one in search of a resting place (floppy ears and front paws flop on the cover). Both find comfort with their mothers. (Sterling/Pinwheel, $7.95 each 8p ages 2-4 ISBN 0-8069-8413-9; -8403-1; Apr.)

Touch the Bunny and Touch the Kitty by Jacqueline McQuade features textures and simple text. In the first title, little fingers can stroke the silky fur patch embedded in the bunny's side. In the second, the cat has a "rough little tongue." (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $6.99 each 10p ages 6 mos.-4 yrs. ISBN 0-439-33943-X; -33942-1; Mar.)

A bunny with fuzzy pink ears and satiny pajamas graces the cover of Bedtime for Bunny: A Book to Touch and Feel by Jane Yolen, illus. by Lynn Norton Parker. Inside, lilting rhyme will help readers get set for sleep, too. A soft blue blanket covers bunny's bed in the final spread. (S&S/Little Simon, $7.99 12p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-689-84832-3; Apr.)

It's the next best thing to a petting zoo: My First Farm Touch and Feel board book, part of the My First series, offers youngsters exposure to a life on the farm with bold graphics and textured photographs. Also available: My First Animal Book. (DK, $9.95 board 12p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-7894-8524-9; $14.95 48p -8521-4; Mar.)

The Second Time Around

Irene Haas, illustrator of Beatrice Schenk de Regniers's folk song adaptation Was It a Good Trade?, has traded in her preseparated art from the original 1956 publication for all-new art in a May reissue. At 10¾" x 6½", the volume retains the horizontal shape of its predecessor, and many of Haas's compositions closely resemble her originals, with multiple vignettes on a single spread suggesting the protagonist's bartering actions. The tidy lines and solid color fields of the 1956 edition, however, have yielded to a profusion of patterns in lush colors, with every detail welcoming in readers. (HarperCollins, $15.95 32p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-06-029359-4; May)

Words of Reassurance

Several new titles focus on comforting youngsters in a variety of situations. And After That... by Jeanne Ashbé uses a simple lift-the-flap format and predictable text to ease toddlers into the idea of having a new baby in the house. The words "after socks," for instance, appear on an illustrated square flap; underneath lies a pair of lace-up shoes. A later section shows before-and-after scenes with baby and sibling. (Kane-Miller, $9.95 16p ages 2-5 ISBN 1-929132-24-7; Mar.)

"Winky," "Gorilla" and "Blanky and the Nippi Strips" are not the names of campy grunge bands. They are the stuffed animals and well-worn blankets in Creature Comforts: People and Their Security Objects by Barbara Collopy O'Halloran, photos by Betty Udesen. Personal accounts of special items that have accompanied children through various rites of passage, often from both a parent's and child's perspective, are accompanied by b&w photos. (Houghton, $17 64p ages 8-up ISBN 0-618-11864-0; Mar.)

Mommy Time! by Élisabeth Brami, illus. by Anne-Sophie Tschiegg, chronicles an unseen child's fantasies of what a mother does during the day. Tschiegg's inventive artwork blends mixed-media collage with humorous imagined situations. "Is Mommy fixing things?/ Is she washing dishes?" prompts an image of the woman juggling bowls as she cleans them. (Kane-Miller, $9.95 48p ages 3-up ISBN 1-929132-22-0; Mar.)

To lull youngsters to sleep, the paper-over-board book Good Night, Sleep Tight, Little Bunnies by Dawn Apperley combines soothing text with illustrations of an array of animals—and one special girl—falling asleep with their parents. (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $9.95 32p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-439-22525-6; Mar.)

Interactive Fun

Hen makes a memorable trip to market in Hen Goes Shopping by Mark Birchall. "I won't forget a thing," says Hen. "I've made a list....Let's see.... Do I want apples or bananas?" Readers turn a flap to find worms in the apples; a pull-tab fills Hen's basket with bananas. The pattern repeats until the basket overflows with all the items on her list. (Dial, $12.99 16p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-8037-2690-2; Mar.)

Kidnapped by the Cruel Ape, Little Tom Trash sets out to find the Little Girl in The Twilight Book by Jonny Boatfield. Readers join in the time-sensitive search, navigating a fantastic landscape of cross-hatch line drawings, teeming with details. Hidden clocks count down the hour. (Bloomsbury UK [Trafalgar Square, dist.] $8.95 paper 32p ages 6-9 ISBN 0-7475-5083-2; Feb.)

No, No, Jack! by Ron Hirsch, illus. by Pierre Pratt, follows a prankish pup hiding household items. Humorous full-bleed illustrations and brief text give a clue to readers ("This sand needs to go back in the sandbox, Andy. What can we use?") before they open the fold-out door to find the missing item (a pail). (Dial, $10.99 24p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-8037-2612-0; Mar.)

In a zany send-up, The Diary of Hansel and Gretel by Kees Moerbeck, narrator Gretel records the siblings' frightening journey through the forest—and the fattening of Hansel in childlike handwriting on notebook pages and sketches. A pop-up gingerbread house and industrial oven with fiery orange flames add to the tactile experience. (S&S/Little Simon, $12.95 12p ages 5-8 ISBN 0-689-84602-9; Mar.)

Iridescent foil patches highlight bedtime accoutrements, such as a nightlight, quilt and bathtub, in My Little Shimmery Time for Bed, and a pail and shovel, ball and more in My Little Shimmery Time for Fun, both by Salina Yoon. (Piggy Toes, $5.95 each 12p ages 6 mos.-2 yrs. ISBN 1-58117-089-0; -090-4; Mar.)

Little Elephant asks the questions that haunt him in Mommy, What If... ? by Carla Dijs. "What if you were not here? Who would take care of me? What then?" Pop-ups picture the baby's unpleasant imaginings (none too threatening—even the tiger does not look menacing); foldout pages reveal the mother's reassuring replies. (S&S/Little Simon, $8.99 14p ages 4-7 ISBN 0-689-84692-4; Apr.)

In Baby See, Baby Do! by Malachy Doyle, illus. by Britta Teckentrup, a baby copies his compatriots in the animal kingdom. In one funny spread, "slippery baby otters love to splash around," the flap on the facing page reveals the bubbly baby in the tub with mother ("I like splashing, too"). Mixed-media collage illustrations pump up the comedy. (Putnam, $12.99 14p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-399-23728-3; Mar.)

A curious cow shares lunch with the pigeons, takes a boat tour and rollerskates through the park in Moo Moo Goes to the City by Jo Lodge. Pull-tabs make the titular bovine star move from train to hat shop to a boat tour past a cow-shaped Statue of Liberty. (Little, Brown/Tingley,$12.95 16p ages 2-4 ISBN 0-316-65582-1; Apr.)

The insomniac narrator goes in search of the perfect resting place in My Dream Bed by Lauren Child. The girl, attached by a silvery ribbon to the oversize paper-over-board book, curls up on a crescent moon on the cover. Readers can insert the heroine in various scenes including a campsite, bird's nest or scallop shell. (Scholastic, $15.95 18p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-439-30912-3; Mar.)

Norman Bridwell's Big Red Dog features in a pair of titles. Clifford and Emily Elizabeth teach letters and counting alongside memory and matching games in Clifford's Neighborhood: Lots to Learn Around Town, illus. by Carolyn Bracken and Ken Edwards. The oversize board book, shaped like a doghouse, contains over 80 flaps to lift. Clifford I Love You Pop-Up (first published in 1994) reappears as part of Reading Is Fundamental's 35th anniversary. Bridwell's rhymed couplets and oversize pop-ups of the giant pooch show him enjoying an array of affections with his human friends ("When you're happy,/ Love is sharing./ When you're sad,/ Love is caring"). (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $10.99 10p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-439-33242-7; $7.99 10p ages 3-5 -36774-3; Feb.)

Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Frances Cony, illus. by Iain Smyth, brings readers to the barnyard with a full assortment of interactive elements. Pull tabs make cows simultaneously snack on straw and roll their eyes; a lift of the flap allows the farmer to reach for eggs in the chicken coop. (Scholastic/Orchard, $10.95 12p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-531-30129-X; Mar.)

Two Finger Puppet Pals by Tim Weare allow readers to use a latex finger puppet, embedded in thick board book pages, to animate the action.In I'm a Little Penguin, the star searches for its parents; I'm a Little Caterpillar follows the titular creature as it imagines different identities. (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $6.95 each 12p ages 3-5 ISBN 0-439-33868-9; -33867-0; Mar.)

Part of the Bug in a Box series, Peekaboo Bugs by David A. Carter offers five liftable flaps on each page to highlight an assortment of same-colored items ("Can you find the Blue Bug?"); a turning wheel keeps the foil-trimmed insects on the move. (S&S/Little Simon, $12.95 10p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-689-85035-2; May)

Shaped like its title, My Doctor's Bag board book comes with more than 15 press-out pieces including a "reflex hammer" and "ear viewer" so little ones can act the part. (DK, $7.95 10p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-7894-8520-6; Mar.)

Two Mixed-Up Pop-Up Books by Keith Faulkner, illus. by Jonathan Lambert, allow kids to create countless combinations of hybrid creatures with split pages. What do you get when you mix a tiger and a crocodile in Jumbled Jungle? A "Tidile," of course. Funny Farm focuses on pigs, ponies and the like. (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $7.95 each 10p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-439-30903-4; -30904-2; Mar.)

Reading Readiness

Two entries in the Build a Picture series by Dewi Morris use a magnetic board and 45 magnetic stickers to prepare youngsters to read. Each heavyweight page of Sandy's Street shows a die-cut frame of the titular cat's road. The text below highlights things on his block and beyond, and words printed in bold (house, garage, skyscrapers, etc.) correspond to a picture at the bottom of the page as well as a sticker included in a pouch tucked into the front cover. Benny's Farm features a barnyard dog. (Little, Brown, $14.95 each 24p ages 4-6 ISBN 0-316-83609-5; -83327-4; Apr.)

Bold black line silhouettes of familiar objects against neon-bright backgrounds accompany a series of three-letter words in First Words, illus. by Mandy Stanley. "Bus"and "bee," "cat" and "car" are just two of the pairings on a spread. Three additional titles in the square board books series are: At the Beach; At the Zoo; and On the Farm. (Kingfisher, $3.95 each 12p ages 2-up ISBN 0-7534-5443-2; -5444-0; -5446-7; -5445-9; Apr.)