True Companions

Several books follow the footsteps of earlier titles. The ursine hero from the best-selling Bear Snores On emerges from hibernation in Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson, illus. by Jane Chapman. The "more" he wants is food, of course: "When springtime comes,/ in his warm winter den/ a bear wakes up/ very hungry and thin!" His friends are happy to indulge him, but when he heads home, stuffed, he's in for a surprise. (S&S/McElderry, $16.95 40p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-689-84509-X; Jan.)

Lesléa Newman adds a third title to her series of animal-themed romps (Cats, Cats, Cats! and Dogs, Dogs, Dogs!) with Pigs, Pigs, Pigs!, illus. by Erika Oller. Here, to welcome the pigs, the townspeople prepare a scrumptious feast of "Fried green tomatoes and mashed sweet potatoes,/ Troughs full of twice-baked spaghetti./ Cheese tortellini with deep-fried zucchini,/ And buckets of Apple Brown Betty" plus more; in exchange, the pigs perform. (S&S/McElderry, $15.95 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 0-689-84979-6; Feb.)

The star of Crispin: The Pig Who Had It All, accustomed to having his parents' undivided attention, has a hard time adjusting when triplets arrive in Crispin and the 3 Little Piglets by Ted Dewan. (Doubleday, $15.95 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 0-385-74633-4; Mar.)

The capering canine from Dog's Colorful Day (see p. 70) returns in another learning adventure for the preschool set, Dog's Noisy Day: A Story to Read Aloud by Emma Dodd. This time Dog's day brims with onomatopoeic sounds from the "grrrr!" of his stomach to the "cock-a-doodle-dooooo!" of the rooster on a nearby farm. Each noise appears in bold capital letters and exclamation points against a bright, solid backdrop filled with sunny-faced cartoon animals. (Dutton, $14.99 32p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-525-47015-8; Feb.)

Isaac Millman once again shows the star of Moses Goes to School and Moses Goes to a Concert enjoying a universal experience of childhood in Moses Goes to the Circus. He visits the Big Apple Circus's "Circus of the Senses" with his parents and younger sister, Renee, who's learning to speak and sign to Moses simultaneously. Millman shows insets of Moses signing simple sentences labeled with arrows and symbols, so readers can learn along with Renee. (FSG/Foster, $16 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-374-35064-7; Mar.)

Mrs. Harwell from First Day Jitters (1982) returns for another chaotic school year in First Year Letters by Julie Danneberg, illus. by Judy Love. The narrative consists of letters that the students write to their teacher (sent via the classroom post office), candidly commenting on a variety of incidents. Eddie apologizes for throwing up on her shoes; Margaret compliments the teacher for leaping over a railing "like a real track star" to straighten up a stuffed buffalo while on a museum field trip. (Charlesbridge/Whispering Coyote, $16.95 32p ages 5-9 ISBN 1-58089-084-9; paper $6.95 -085-7; Feb.)

The team behind How Much Is a Million? creates another mathematical adventure, Millions to Measure by David M. Schwartz, illus. by Steven Kellogg. Here the wizard Marvelosissimo leads readers on an eye-opening exploration of measurement, from before standardization to modern methods, with special emphasis on the metric system. A gatefold spread reveals a scale drawing of a meter stick; back matter explains the history and rationale behind the metric system and how to use it every day. (HarperCollins, $16.99 40p ages 5-12 ISBN 0-688-12916-1; Mar.)

A child expresses a keen interest in all manner of aircraft in I Love Planes! by Philemon Sturges, illus. by Shari Halpern. Endpapers describe flying machines and terms (e.g., "Sky scratches are not smoke. They are ice crystals made by the airplane's breath in the cold of the high sky"), in a format that follows I Love Trains!, which is now available in paperback. (HarperCollins, $12.99 32p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-06-028898-1; Trains HarperTrophy, $5.99 -443667-5; Mar.)

After reimagining Herman Melville's Moby Dick in his signature comic strip style, Will Eisner adapts a Malinese folktale in Sundiata: A Legend of Africa. Two-tone watercolors and a confident fine black line chronicle the tale of a crippled child who matures into the liberator and founder of the Mali empire. (NBM [212-643-5407], $15.95 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 1-56163-332-1; Jan.)

Animals on Board

Marion Dane Bauer's If You Were Born a Kitten (1997), illus. by JoEllen McAllister Stammen, makes a fitting board book, with just one line of text per spread, as it describes how 11 animals come into the world ("If you were born a kitten,/ you'd slip into the world in a/ silvery sac, and your mother/ would lick, lick, lick you free"). The book ends with a baby's birth: "You rode curled beneath your mother's heart,/ growing and growing...." In a starred review, PW called it "lovingly maternal, soothing and perfect for bedtime." (S&S/Little Simon, $7.99 32p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-689-85329-7; Dec.)

With illustrations first published in Animal Tricks, The Owl and the Woodpecker and other stories, Zoo Animals by Brian Wildsmith introduces youngsters to 28 animals (one per page) from around the world, including polar bears, meerkats and spider monkeys. Bite-size blurbs accompany each illustration and present basic facts ("Spider Monkeys use their tails like hands to grasp on to tree branches. Spider Monkeys live in Central and South America"). A Spanish-language edition, Los animales del zoológico, is also available. (Star Bright [800-788-4439], $6.95 each 32p ages 6 mos.-4 yrs. ISBN 1-887734-92-9; -95-3; Nov.)

Animal sounds abound in What Do You Say? by Mandy Stanley. Saturated colors in simple blocky forms represent different animals. On one spread, cat and mouse appear together, lending the answer to the titular question—a giant "meoow" and tiny, trembling "eek eek"—a whole other meaning. (S&S/Little Simon, $7.99 24p ages 1-4 ISBN 0-689-85404-8; Jan.)

You're Invited

Interactive elements invite readers to play along in a batch of new books. Vibrant double-page spreads fold out to extend the view in the onomatopoeic Animal Surprise! by Christopher Gunson. In the first spread, for example, a frog eyes a fly ("Flick/ Stick..."); the resulting triptych reveals him bringing the morsel to his mouth then savoring his catch ("Yum!"). Other creatures include a monkey, duckling, kitten and bunny. (Doubleday UK [Trafalgar, dist.], $17.95 32p ages 2-4 ISBN 0-385-60223-5; Feb.)

Little ones play a dressed-up version of peek-a-boo in Marion Dane Bauer's board book Toes, Ears, & Nose!, illus. by Karen Katz. "Inside my mittens I've got," Bauer begins. Readers lift decorative pink mittens to find "fingers." Snow boots, earmuffs and a scarf hide other body parts; vibrant colors and patterns add pizzazz. (S&S/Little Simon, $5.99 16p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-689-84712-2; Jan.)

The follow-up to Colors, Robert Crowther's Shapes boasts more than 30 flaps and pull-tabs to illustrate six shapes (circle, oval, square, rectangle, diamond and triangle). For example, the first page is a red die-cut circle labeled with its name; pull the tab and a string appears, transforming it into a balloon. With a turn of the page, layered circular flaps reveal labeled illustrations of round objects (pizza, ball, etc.). (Candlewick, $12.99 14p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-7636-1889-6; Nov.)

Creative creatures star in the paper-over-board Jungle Art Show by Shaheen Bilgrami, illus. by Patrick Girouard, part of the Magic Color Books series. The animals draw pictures of each other and their b&w sketches appear behind an acetate screen. When readers pull the tab the drawing slides to the right, transformed into color. In Farmyard Painting Party, from the same team, the animals enjoy rainy day arts and crafts. (Sterling/Pinwheel, $5.95 each 10p ages 2-5 ISBN 1-4027-0206-X; -0205-1; Feb.)

The Story Goes On...

Readers pick up where they left off with a handful of novel sequels. First published in Australia, Missing Mem by Errol Broome, illus. by Ann James, is the follow-up to Magnus Maybe. Here, Mem, a white mouse, searches for a playmate. When the circus comes to town Mem goes missing and her father, Magnus, is surprised to find she's made friends with Banjara the elephant and a human girl. (S&S/Aladdin, $4.99 paper 144p ages 6-10 ISBN 0-7434-3797-7; Feb.)

In this third title in the series begun with Silverwing and Sunwing, Firewing by Kenneth Oppel features young Griffin, son of the bats Marina and Shade. When Griffin is swallowed by the "Underworld," his father must rescue him before it's too late. (S&S, $16.95 272p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-689-84993-1; Feb.)

The Adventures of Young Buffalo Bill series continues with E. Cody Kimmel's In the Eye of the Storm. In this installment, the threat of violence from pro-slavery forces still lingers. Nine-year-old Bill must juggle the demands of running the family farm and going to school while his father heals from a stab wound inflicted by "border ruffians." (HarperCollins, $15.99 144p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-06-029115-X; Feb.)

Theodore Taylor (The Cay) continues the story of Ben, begun with Sniper, in Lord of the Kill. Here, Ben, now 16, is once again left to cope while his animal rights—activist parents do research in India for an article on the dwindling tiger population. When Ben discovers a human body in a jaguar cage during his morning rounds at Los Coyotes Preserve, he decides to follow up on a lead of his own, and the safety of his beloved 800-pound Siberian tiger, Lord of the Kill, becomes imperiled. Readers will have to tune in for the next installment to find out who committed the murder. (Scholastic/Blue Sky, $16.95 256p ages 10-16 ISBN 0-439-33725-9; Dec.)

Carolyn Reeder, winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for her Civil War novel Shades of Gray, now focuses on the months between South Carolina's secession and the war's first major battle in Before the Creeks Ran Red. The story unfolds in three novellas told from the perspective of a diverse trio of boys from South Carolina, Maryland and Virginia. The three don't know one another, but their separate stories make for mounting drama and help explain the reasons behind the conflict. A historical postscript answers the question "How much of this book is true?" (HarperCollins, $15.99 400p ages 10-up ISBN 0-06-623615-0; Jan.)