Classic Makeovers

A few literary staples get a new look this season, while others are adapted and retold. Mole, Rat, Badger and Toad return in Kenneth Grahame's turn-of-the-20th-century classic, The Wind in the Willows (1908), newly illustrated by Michael Foreman. The keepsake edition presents Grahame's unabridged text alongside illustrations of the picnic-bound Mole and Rat capsizing their boat into a watery blue-green world and carolers bringing Yuletide joy to Mole End. Back matter contains a brief biography of the author as well as reproductions of original letters that Grahame sent to his young son, containing the seeds of the story. (Harcourt, $24 240p all ages ISBN 0-15-216807-9; Oct.)

Lou Fancher sensitively adapts Margery Williams's The Velveteen Rabbit, illus. by Steve Johnson and Fancher, while maintaining the magic of the original. The inviting oil paintings ingeniously portray the boy's toy rabbit with button eyes, shaped like those of the real rabbits living in the nearby woods; as the stuffed rabbit is transformed by love, the artists seem to inject animation into its eyes, depicting its metamorphosis into a living, breathing being. (Atheneum/Schwartz, $16.95 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-689-84134-5; Oct.)

Joan Aiken puts a new spin on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, illus. by Belinda Downes. Here, the evil stepmother's magic mirror issues insulting verse ("Snow White is fairest under the sun,/ She makes you look like a cinnamon bun"); the seven brothers have names like Fred and Ted, except for the youngest, Sacheverell, "who was called Sachie by all his brothers." Downes's illustrations, composed of a patchwork of fabrics, capture the rolling countryside and seem especially well suited to scenes of the septet's domicile. (DK, $15.99 44p ages 5-8 ISBN 0-7894-8799-3; Oct.)

Christine San José retells Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl, illus. by Lithuanian artist Kestutis Kasparavicius. Finely rendered images depict the impoverished child peddling her wares on European cobblestone streets; when she lights matches to stay warm on New Year's Eve—and imagines bounty in the flames—the artwork turns effectively surreal. (Boyds Mills, $15.95 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 1-59078-000-0; Sept.)

Drawing from the original 1877 ballet by Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky, which has a happy ending (unlike the more familiar, tragic 1893 version), Lisbeth Zwerger retells and illustrates Swan Lake, trans. by Marianne Martens. Her signature gauzy watercolors, framed in white borders, follow the prince from the eve of the prince's 18th birthday (Zwerger foreshadows events as one couple dances in the distance, while the solo prince links arms with a chain of guests) through the transformation of the Swan Queen and her friends, as they change from their human forms back into birds. These metamorphoses take on an eerily sensual quality; Zwerger creates the sensation that readers are intruders on a private moment. (North-South, $15.95 32p all ages ISBN 0-7358-1702-2; Sept.)

Gary D. Schmidt retells Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Great Stone Face, illus. by Bill Farnsworth, about a village prophecy that a man will be born with the likeness of the visage etched into the stone cliff that stretches above their valley and "will be the noblest person of his time." Only young Ethan and the town pastor still have faith in the prophecy. The artist's luminous oil paintings convey the lush valley as well as the quiet leadership that emanates from Ethan over the years—until readers themselves will recognize, as Ethan's granddaughter does, that the prophecy has indeed been fulfilled. (Eerdmans, $16 32p ages 6-up ISBN 0-8028-5194-0; Oct.)

Newly abridged by Timothy Meis, James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans comes to life under the paintbrush of N.C. Wyeth, with illustrations originally published in 1919. The artist offers readers a close-up view of the French and Indian War, in paintings such as British colonel Duncan's struggle against a Huron warrior or the Mohican Chingachgook similarly fighting off another Huron warrior in the clearing of a wood. Wyeth's paintings also accompany Meis's adaptation of Daniel DeFoe's Robinson Crusoe, due out in February. (S&S/ Atheneum, $18.95 each 64p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-689-84068-3; -85104-9; Nov.)

The publisher has timed this unabridged edition of Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio, illus. by Gris Grimly, to hit bookstores just before Roberto Benigni's (Life Is Beautiful) feature film based on the book. Grimly applies the same off-kilter, skewed perspectives that made his Monster Museum so memorable; in his pen-and-inks, Pinocchio resembles a wooden bird with his round belly, twig-like legs, beaky nose and bead-like eyes. A scene of Candlewick and Pinocchio changing into donkeys will likely raise goosebumps. (Tor, $15.95 224p all ages ISBN 0-765-30591-7; Tor/Starscape, $5.99 paper -34458-0; Oct.)

Happy Birthday, Teddy Bear!

Youngsters can celebrate the Teddy bear's 100th birthday with Famous Bears & Friends: One Hundred Years of Teddy Bear Stories, Poems, Songs, and Heroics by Janet Wyman Coleman, illus. by various artists. A dispute still lingers about who invented the stuffed bear (Was it a pair of Russian immigrant toymakers living in Brooklyn or Germany's Margarete Steiff?) and the alternate histories (plus the legend of Teddy Roosevelt's contribution to the toy bear's nickname) kick off this affectionate homage. A chapter each from Winnie-the-Pooh and A Bear Called Paddington ; Don Freeman's complete Corduroy; and poems by A.A. Milne, Shel Silverstein and Judith Viorst contribute to this handsomely designed treasury. (Dutton, $19.99 64p all ages ISBN 0-525-46925-7; Oct.)

Good Gifts

With the holiday season fast approaching, several titles may be just right for gift-giving. Handmade Cards: Simple Designs for Beautiful Cards by Anne Akers Johnson teaches readers how to make and provides the materials for an array of cards and envelopes. Readers learn the basics before moving on to photo easel and pop-up cards. For the adventurous, there's even an "Itty-bitty Box" that opens into a card. The paperback book is affixed to a sturdy melon green portfolio, secured with a matching elastic band, that contains 22 sheets of paper, reusable templates and helpful tools. (Klutz, $24.95 paper ages 14-up ISBN 1-57054-950-8; Oct.)

Packaged in a resealable case, Sweet Dreams by Cooper Edens and Sheryl Abrams makes an elegant stocking stuffer. The playing-card-size deck contains 36 "bedtime wishes," just right for tucking under the pillow. Images from 19th-century children's books illustrate one side; a poem or quote from the likes of Helen Keller, Walter de la Mare and Rainer Maria Rilke appears on the opposite side. (Chronicle, $9.95 all ages ISBN 0-8118-3312-7; Nov.)

Frosty is just the tip of the iceberg in Snowman in a Box: Everything You Need to Build Classic and Cool Snow Creations by Nancy Armstrong, illus. by Adam McCauley. Bound with thick rustic twine (which can make it a bit challenging to turn the pages), the book offers step-by-step instructions for making all kinds of creations, including a "Cool Chick" female snowperson with pine needle—eyelashes and a rock-star snowman playing broom guitar; accessories in an oblong box include a felt top hat, red scarf and "carrot nose." Warm-weather dwellers will appreciate tips on working with sand. (Running Press, $9.95 48p ages 9-12 ISBN 0-7624-1352-2; Nov.)

A trio of miniature editions unite for Warthogs in a Box: Warthogs Paint: A Messy Color Book; Warthogs in the Kitchen: A Sloppy Counting Book; and Slop Goes the Soup: A Noisy Word Book, all by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illus. by Henry Cole. The paper-over-board books come with a sticker sheet of the wacky warthogs, housed in a resealable case with retractable handle. (Hyperion, $9.99 ages 4-8 ISBN 0-7868-0894-2; Oct.)