Reissue Forth

Treasured picture books return to delight a new generation of readers. The Complete Adventures of Big Dog and Little Dog collects five stories about Dav Pilkey's mischievous canines originally published as board books. Big Dog and Little Dog mistake a skunk for a kitty, take a very muddy walk, have a grand time playing with the couch and generally wreak large and small amounts of havoc in this genially naughty compendium (often with a fun twist at the end, such as arriving from the skunk encounter to find a party; the guests are none too happy to greet them). Spare artwork of thick black India ink outlines and solid acrylic colors match the simple text. (Harcourt, $15 88p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-15-204708-5; June)

Kevin Henkes offers a meditative reflection on the joys of solitude in his first book, All Alone, originally published more than 20 years ago. A boy contemplates the joys of using his imagination—"When I'm alone,/ I can change my size any way I like./ I can be tall enough to taste the sky"—ultimately concluding that being all alone is fun "for just a while." Watercolor-and-colored-pencil art complements the gentle text with timeless images of nature and wonder. (HarperCollins/ Greenwillow, $14.99 40p all ages ISBN 0-06-054115-6; June)

I Can Fly by Ruth Krauss, illus. by Mary Blair, first published in 1951, features another solitary child in imaginary play, but the tone here is sillier. A rhyming text boasts that the girl can do anything that a variety of animals can do; for example, as she eats celery: "Crunch crunch crunch/ I'm a goat out to lunch." The artwork contrasts her antics with the animals she imitates in flatly patterned, stylized shapes that owe much to 1950s-era animation. (Random/Golden, $12.95 48p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-307-10548-2; June)

Lois Lenski's Mr. Small appears in two stories first published in the 1930s, now available in full-color editions. The Little Sailboat stars Captain Small and his dog, Tinker, who sail and fish and swim; after a full day, they head home, racing a storm to shore. As Pilot Small in The Little Airplane, the star flies a small propeller-driven airplane, does loops and turns and even makes an emergency landing. The landscapes pictured here reflect the relatively unpopulated vistas of the 1930s, and Lenski's artwork still delights with its bold forms and classic simplicity. (Random, $11.95 each, 56p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-375-81078-1; -81079-X; June)

Golden Books brings back three Big Little Golden Books, picture books from the 1940s and '50s now available in larger-sized, paper-over-board editions. Originally published in 1954, The Friendly Book by Margaret Wise Brown, illus. by Garth Williams, uses rhyming verse to explore a whole series of likable things. It's a paean to dogs and boats, cars and stars—as in "I like stars/ Far stars/ Quiet stars/ Bright Stars/ Light stars/ I like stars/ A star that is shooting across the dark sky/ A star that is shining right straight in your eye/ I like stars." Williams packs the illustrations with quirky, often hilarious details; for the spread about stars, for example, a rabbit balloonist floats through the night sky in a patched-up balloon, labeled "starship," with a bird's nest on top of it. The Saggy Baggy Elephant by K. & B. Jackson, illus. by Tenggren, debuted in 1947. A happy little elephant named Sooki dances through the jungle until a saucy parrot makes fun of Sooki's saggy, baggy skin. This pachyderm-cum-ugly-duckling story features richly hued artwork against white backgrounds. A spare text tells the tale of a fire and the heroic firemen who rush to put it out, in The Great Big Fire Engine Book(1950) by Tibor Gergely, "Quick! Connect the hoses! S-s-s-s! goes the water." The rescuers swarm over each spread with reassuring efficiency. (Random/Golden, $8.99 each 32p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-307-10643-8; 0-375-82590-8; 0-307-10321-8; June)

Tomie dePaola's Four Friends in Summer, originally published in 1977 (as chapters entitled "Spring" and "Summer" in Four Stories for Four Seasons), follows Master Dog, Missy Cat, Mistress Pig and Mister Frog as they go rowing on a lake and then decide to each plant a garden. Humorous illustrations framed against a white background display dePaola's signature style. (S&S, $14.95 32p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-689-85693-8; June)

The Scribner Storybook Classic line adds Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, abridged by Timothy Meis, with vintage illustrations by N.C. Wyeth. Young Jim Hawkins finds a treasure map and follows it to South America, only to wind up in the hands of the notorious pirate Long John Silver. Climactic scenes of aggressive mutineers or the hero's valiant attempt to keep the evil Mr. Hands at bay come alive in Wyeth's atmospheric oil paintings. (S&S/Atheneum, $18.95 64p all ages ISBN 0-689-85468-4; July)

Richard Peck's only picture book, Monster Night at Grandma's House(1977), illus. by Don Freeman, appears here with an author's note recounting the volume's genesis. This tale of a boy's fearful night at Grandma's house unfolds through a lengthy text perhaps best appreciated by die-hard Peck fans. Freeman's two-color scratchboard artwork in India ink and watercolor adds to the period feel. (Dial, $12.99 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-8037-2904-9; Aug.)

Fascinating Facts

A round-up of new nonfiction titles focuses on plenty of pets. Two bilingual board books introduce youngest readers to their furry companions in Touch and Feel Kitten: A Spanish/English Word Book and Touch and Feel Puppy: A Spanish/English Word Book. Die-cut covers let readers feel a feline's "fur" in Kitten, and later a "tongue," with appropriately simple text: "Toca mi lengua áspera y rosada./ Touch my rough, pink tongue." Puppy follows suit, with photogenic canines who like to play. (DK, $6.99 each 12p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-7894-9523-6; 9525-2; July)

The paper-over-board Everything Cat: What Kids Really Want to Know About Cats by Marty Crisp, a companion to the author's Everything Dog, once again uses a q&a format to reveal the truth about these often mysterious creatures. Questions range from the practical, such as "Why do my cat's eyes seem to glow in photographs?" (answer: cats' eyes contain a special membrane that reflects light so they can see better at night) to the more speculative, such as "Do cats really have nine lives?" ("Maybe. Certainly some cats have amazing survival stories," answers the author before recounting a few). (NorthWord [815-254-7383], $9.95 64p ages 8-11 ISBN 1-55971-864-1; July)

Great Pets! An Extraordinary Guide to More than 60 Usual and Unusual Family Pets by Sara Stein, examines the pros and cons of a wide variety of animal companions. Beginning with "Pets in the Wild," which discusses animals like ducks and squirrels that kids might befriend, this encyclopedic volume continues with creatures who live in vivariums, aquariums, even serpentariums (for those seeking advice on how to get a fussy boa to eat a spotted mouse). Stein also rounds up more usual suspects, such as birds, hamsters, cats and dogs, and includes information on how to build homes for everything from a tree frog to a skunk. (Storey Kids, $16.95 paper 368p ages 10-up ISBN 1-58017-489-2; June)

For aspiring equestrians, Riding School: Learn How to Ride at a Real Riding School, by Catherine Saunders, photos by David Handley, presents the riding lessons of three girls and a boy. Beginning with a discussion of proper clothing, from boots to hat, and moving through basic positions and on to jumping, the text and photo captions provide plenty of information. The Equestrian Centre depicted here is in England, though one spread does discuss western riding. (DK, $12.99 48p ages 8-up ISBN 0-7894-9294-6; Aug.)