Native Tongue

Organized into five sections, Enduring Wisdom: Sayings from Native Americans, ed. by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, illus. by Synthia Saint James, presents quotes from various North American tribes. A Sioux Medicine Man's poem (1972) describes how a meaty pot of soup represents the essential elements of life; a 1940 Cree hunter explains why he does not kill "for killing's sake"; a Nachez mother in 1729 instructs her son, a chief. A foreword by the editor explains that, since Native Americans had no written language "until long after white people were well established in America," these quotes were spoken in prayer, song or conversation, and in this way passed down through the generations. Abstract patterns illustrate the soup poem; bold geometric shapes represent the hunter, while tiny brushstrokes indicate feathers on his bow and leaves on the trees. A handsome, inspiring volume. (Holiday, $16.95 32p all ages ISBN 0-8234-1455-8; Mar.)

Cool Concepts

A bounty of titles presents basic concepts and appeals to youngsters' common interests. Shaped like butterflies, nine sparkly counting pieces peek through die-cut holes on the cover of the paper-over-board book Good Night, Sweet Butterflies by Dawn Bentley, illus. by Heather Cahoon. Each spread highlights a different color as the butterflies search for a place to sleep (e.g., they alight on "yellow daisies waving to the yellow setting sun"), and one less appears with each turn of a page. (S&S/Little Simon; $10.95 24p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-689-85684-9; Mar.)

Ten Wishing Stars: A Countdown to Bedtime Book by Treesha Runnells, illus. by Sarah Dillard, follows the same format. Plastic glow-in-the-dark stars count down as the pages turn. (Piggy Toes, $9.95 22p ages 3-up ISBN 1-58117-187-0; Feb.)

In the board book Big and Little by Samantha Berger and Pamela Chanko, crisp, clear photographs and contrasting type demonstrates opposites. On separate spreads, for example, a child holds an adult's hand ("Big hand and little hand") and a baby elephant walks beneath her mother's belly ("Big elephant and little elephant"). (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $4.99 30p ages 6 mos.-3 yrs. ISBN 0-439-44237-0; Apr.)

Charles M. Schulz's familiar characters act out in two shaped board books with soft rubberized covers. Peanuts: Snoopy's Feelings, for example, finds the canine sporting his Joe Cool sweatshirt for "cool"; his ears stand up for "surprised"; and, in his Red Baron gear, he looks "worried." In Peanuts: Woodstock in Action, Snoopy's distinctive feathered sidekick enjoys different activities including "diving" into a bird bath and "hiding" in Snoopy's dog dish. (S&S/Little Simon, $5.99 each 12p ages 1-4 ISBN 0-689-85662-8; 85663-6; Apr.)

With die-cut pages that grow progressively larger, Philippe Dupasquier matches nine different colored pencils, one to a spread, with corresponding animals, including a cardinal, yellow butterflies and pink flamingoes in Red Blue Color Zoo. The penultimate page depicts a flock of black bats. Two titles by Jane Chapman follow the same format: Let's Go! and Let's Build! In both books, a different vehicle appears on successive die-cut pages, each larger than the last. The first title, for example, begins with a single motorcycle and ends with a car carrier loaded with four Volkswagen Beetles. (Candlewick, $6.99 each 20p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-7636-2015-7; -2040-8; -2039-4; Apr.)

Youngsters can learn how to prepare for school, the playground and more with Little Bear Gets Dressed by Jane Brett, illus. by Amanda Bartlett. Zippers on sweatshirts, buttons on waistbands and Velcro on shoes allow for plenty of practice, and finally readers tie a bow on Little Bear's pajamas to end his busy day. (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $6.99 6p ages 3-up ISBN 0-439-44320-2; Mar.)

A colorful canine helps readers count and learn colors in two books by David Sim: Matt's Mat! and Matt's Hat! Mottled, electric-bright brushstrokes create textured landscapes. In the first, readers begin by touching a single furry pink circle on Matt's mat, then progress through each page, with one additional fuzzy circle to touch, as they meet the pooch and his friends. In the second, die-cut openings show an array of different-colored hats as Matt searches for just the right one. (Piggy Toes, $6.95 each 10p ages 3-up ISBN 1-58117-198-6; 197-8; Mar.)

In Baby Day!, Nancy Elizabeth Wallace uses her signature collage illustrations on sturdy corrugated pages to portray a baby bunny's familiar routine. Beginning with "Baby day! Up! Up! Up!" when the mother takes her baby from the crib (a framed picture of "PJ's" appears, opposite) on to a stroll outside, featuring a close-up of leaf, grass and flower, and later to naptime with "blankie" and "bear," this handsize square volume covers every aspect of a toddler's day. (Houghton, $9.95 32p ages 6 mos.-4 yrs. ISBN 0-618-27576-2; Mar.)

For a slightly older audience, Let's Go Play: An Interactive First Words Book by Salina Yoon similarly explores a child's surroundings with pull tabs, flaps and foil touches. On a spread of the playground, for instance, readers can look under a bush to see "What is Spot chasing?"—a lift of a flap reveals a bone. A pull-tab allows a crab to climb onshore in an ocean scene, and a cat hides beneath a pile of clothes in the bathroom. My First 100 Words Book: A Lift-the-Flap, Pull-Tab Learning Book by Jessica Haney Perez, illus. by Tammie Lyons, expands the backdrops to include an aquarium, parade and camping trip, among others. (Piggy Toes, $10.95 each 10p ages 3-up ISBN 1-58117-185-4; -210-9; Apr.)

Fun with Favorite Characters

Familiar heroes and heroines get fancy in an array of interactive titles. Jane Simmons's lovable duck makes a splash in two Daisy First Jigsaw Books: Bouncy, Bouncy Daisy and Splish, Splash Daisy. Both paper-over-board books feature thick cardboard pages with four-piece puzzles embedded in each full-bleed spread. Youngsters can easily remove the pieces, and discover the corresponding illustration below. (Little, Brown, $9.99 each 10p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-316-79570-4; -79560-7; Mar.)

Marcus Pfister's Rainbow Fish keeps on swimming in the Rainbow Fish Floor Puzzle Book. The paper-over-board book boasts one large puzzle piece that pops out of each illustration. Underneath, the illustration is almost identical except for a small detail; a caption offers a hint ("The lantern on one of the lantern fish is missing," reads one). After readers remove all the pieces, they can assemble them into a single large puzzle. (North-South, $12.99 20p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-7358-1837-1; Mar.)

The paper-over-board Little Engine That Could Storybook Treasury begins with the original story by Watty Piper, illus. by George and Doris Hauman, then follows with a half dozen stories by Michaela Muntaen that teach concepts (e.g., "The Little Engine That Could Let's Count 1-2-3"), five of which are illus. by Cristina Ong; the sixth, "The Little Engine That Could and the Big Chase," illus. by Florence Graham is pure adventure tale. (Grosset & Dunlap, $19.99 176p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-448-43114-9; Apr.)

Elliot the affable moose returns in an oversize board book with more than 60 flaps to help teach the basics: Elliot's Great Big Lift-the-Flap Book by Andrea Beck. As Elliot, Paisley the bear and Socks the monkey set out to find their friends, readers help them locate Amy the lamb by lifting a box cover in the living room; the characters then transform the box into a playhouse. Along the way, flaps help youngsters to learn opposites (readers lift a door reading "closed" to discover it's "open" on the other side), shapes, colors and numbers. (Kids Can, $12.95 10p ages 3-5 ISBN 1-55337-373-1; Mar.)

The unforgettable feline also lends a hand in educating the very young with Hello Kitty Hello Shapes! by Higashi Glaser. "Hello circle!" appears on the left of one spread, showing the heroine with a single golden sphere; opposite, she juggles while balancing on a star-patterned ball, a seal balances a ball on his nose and a dog jumps through a hoop ("Hello Kitty loves circles, especially when they are fancy balls and circus hoops," reads the text below). A final spread gathers all the shapes in her bedroom, followed by two pages of neon-bright punch-out stencils. The oversize board book Hello Kitty's House & Garden by Jean Hirashima provides a variety of backdrops on which readers can tell their own story by applying 194 reusable stickers. The starlet appears in two stickers, once seated and once waving, with various outfits in which to dress her and plenty of garden tools and kitchen utensils. (Abrams, $12.95 32p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-8109-4229-1; $13.95 10p ages 4-8 -4230-5; Mar.)

Katharine Holabird's Angelina Ballerina helps children hold onto their favorite moments in My Memory Book, with plentiful illustrations of the dancing mouse by Helen Craig. Framed pages allow youngsters to slip a photo into a slot, make drawings of their own and place report cards into a pocket; there's even a spot for friends' autographs. Also available: Angelina's Dress-Up Card Game, a deck of 30 playing cards and rules for four different games; Dance of the Sunbeams, a coloring book inspired by the "Angelina in the Wings" TV episode; and Angelina Shines, in which girls can apply sparkly jewel stickers to scenes from the TV series. (Pleasant/American Girl, $14.95 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 1-58485-715-3; Card Game $7.95 -714-5; Dance $4.99 24p -799-X; Shines 24p $4.99 -780-3; Mar.)

Inspired by The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Secret in the Garden: A Peek-Through Book by James Mayhew introduces Sophie, a girl who embarks on an outdoor adventure after reading her favorite book ("about a girl and a secret garden"). Cut-away patches allow glimpses onto the next page. "What could it be?" asks Sophie in a refrain. In the end, she meets a girl named Mary—but is she real, or imagined? (Scholastic/Chicken House, $15.95 32p ages 6-up ISBN 0-439-40435-5; Mar.)