Welcome Back!

Old favorites make comebacks this spring. Appearing in color for the first time, Sisters (1984) by David McPhail chronicles "the story of two sisters.../ who, in many ways, were different./ .../ But [were] alike [in] the most special way of all." McPhail's pen-and-inks are hand-colored by John O'Connor. (Harcourt, $9.95 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-15-204659-3; May)

A pair of wooden puppets, one lean and yellow, the other pink and plump, contemplate existential questions in Yellow & Pink (1984) by William Steig. ("I can't help wondering... how we got to be here. It all seems new and strange. Who are we?") Steig's pen-and-inks, with occasional gray wash, are accented only with the titular tones. PW called it "a comic fable that has more clout than the most fervent homily." (FSG, $10 32p ages 5-up ISBN 0-374-38671-4; May)

Favorite characters also appear in return engagements. Eeyore's (Mis)Adventures by A.A. Milne, illus. by Ernest H. Shepard, offers a quintet of previously published tales about Pooh's pal, the melancholy donkey: "Eeyore Loses a Tail," "Eeyore Has a Birthday," "Christopher Robin Leads an Expedition," "A House Is Built for Eeyore" and "Pooh Invents a New Game." (Dutton, $15.99 64p all ages ISBN 0-525-47070-0; Apr.)

Another in the series of newly reissued Raggedy Ann Adventures, Raggedy Ann: The Paper Dragon by Johnny Gruelle (1926) follows the redheaded heroine and her sidekick, Raggedy Andy, as they head for the woods and happen upon young Marggy, separated from her Daddy. As they hunt for him, they meet new friends, such as Dragon, who at first gives them a fright, but is just "made out of paper and thin slats of wood." (S&S, $17.95 96p ages 5-up ISBN 0-689-84969-9; Mar.)

Two of Laurent de Brunhoff's tales of Babar, originally created by his father, Jean de Brunhoff, are available once more: Babar's Counting Book (1986), in which Babar counts from "1 big bird" to 10 storks flying overhead (the penultimate spread extends the fun to 20 elephants); and Babar and his family take a rocket past the moon and Mars to an uncharted destination covered with caramel in Babar Visits Another Planet (1972). (Abrams, $16.95 each ages 3-5 ISBN 0-8109-4243-7; -4244-5; Apr.)

Do Not Disturb!

Junie B. Jones fans can follow the feisty heroine's example with the vinyl-covered Top-Secret Personal Beeswax: A Journal by Junie B. (and Me!) by Barbara Park, illus. by Denise Brunkus. On the left, Junie B. fills out a page "All About Me," while on the right, the exact same lines (blank) allow readers to describe themselves. Junie B. also demonstrates how to draw a self-portrait, record fun facts about friends and create stories by filling in judiciously placed blanks. Brunkus's pleasingly familiar drawings will inspire confidence in novice journal-keepers. (Random, $11.95 128p ages 6-9 ISBN 0-375-82375-1; Feb.)

True Companions

Favorite characters and companion volumes spring to the fore this season. The star of Alfie and the Birthday Surprise returns with his younger sibling in Annie Rose Is My Little Sister by Shirley Hughes. Alfie reports on all the things that he and his sister enjoy doing together (such as reading books) then points out activities best approached solo: "Annie Rose always wants to play with my toys. She seems to like them better than her own—and that is very annoying." But Alfie is the only one who can comfort Annie Rose when she's down. (Candlewick, $15.99 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-7636-1959-0; Mar.)

In a companion volume to Octopus Hug, Bear Hug by Laurence Pringle, illus. by Kate Salley Palmer, the children are excited about their first overnight camping trip with Dad to Black Bear Lake. But when they hear noises at night, they wonder, "Is it a bear?" Fortunately, Dad explains the noises they hear and eases their fears. (Boyds Mills, $15.95 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 1-56397-876-8; Mar.)

Laced with Spanish words, the series begun with Eight Animals on the Town continues with Eight Animals Play Ball by Susan Middleton Elya, illus. by Lee Chapman. Here, the ocho amigos team up for a game of béisbol. Tempers flare as the game heats up, but a sudden rain shower puts things in perspective. Chapman's festive palette brightens the baseball diamond, and he frames each illustration with a decorative border. (Putnam, $15.99 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-399-23569-8; Mar.)

Harriet Ziefert enumerates all the things that make moms great in 31 Uses for a Mom, illus. by Rebecca Doughty, a companion to 39 Uses for a Friend. "Clock" leads the list, and Doughty depicts a hands-on-hips mother standing at the open door as the school bus pulls up outside. Other uses include chauffeur, hairstylist and last, but not least, friend. Doughty's scribbly black-line drawings with a watercolor wash exude a playful, childlike charm. (Putnam, $12.99 32p all ages ISBN 0-399-23862-X; Mar.)

The star of Alicia Has a Bad Day, Missing Molly and more returns in Alicia's Best Friends by Lisa Jahn-Clough. The bespectacled do-gooder finds herself in a pickle when she throws a "best friends party" and they all want to know which of them is her "best" best friend. (Houghton/Lorraine, $15 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-618-23951-0; Mar.)

After taking to the high seas of his tub in Captain Bob Sets Sail, the hero flies the skies in Captain Bob Takes Flight by Roni Schotter, illus. by Joe Cepeda. Against the backdrop of his cloud-filled blue bedroom walls, Bob fashions a cardboard box plane (with teeth painted on to resemble a WWII fighter). The changing perspectives of Cepeda's bold, almost neon-colored oil paintings give readers the feeling of being on board. (S&S/ Atheneum, $15.95 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-689-83388-1; Apr.)

Sinbad's Secret continues Ludmila Zeman's retellings from the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, begun with Sinbad and Sinbad in the Land of Giants. Sinbad's further adventures include washing up on a paradise-like island, where he is beaten by a "manlike creature" with hairy arms, being taken captive on a ship owned by the maharajah and falling in love with the maharajah's daughter, Fatima. (Tundra, $17.95 32p ages 6-up ISBN 0-88776-462-2; Mar.)

A hippo mama and her child take up residence on the beach and their neighbors aren't especially welcoming, in the follow-up to The Little Hippos' Adventure, The New Hippos by Lena Landström, trans. by John Sandin. At first, the young hippos won't let the new hippo child use the diving board, and the adult hippos watch skeptically as Mother Hippo single-handedly builds a hut. Just as the community warms up to the duo, a new crew comes on the scene. (R&S [FSG, dist.], $15 32p ages 2-6 ISBN 91-29-65823-3; Apr.)

Accused of rummaging through the trash and digging up the flower bed, Spike is sent to obedience school in Spike in Trouble by Paulette Bogan, the fourth title starring the spunky canine. But Spike is innocent, and when he returns from training to find more mayhem afoot, he's determined to catch the real mischief-maker. (Putnam, $13.99 32p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-399-23765-8; Apr.)