All A-Board!

Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury work their storytelling magic in Farmer Duck. A duck does all the work for a lazy farmer until a rebellion by the other barnyard animals sets them all free. "By book's end, young readers will flap for joy right along with the endearing web-footed hero," said PW in a starred review. (Candlewick, $6.99 26p ages 3-up ISBN 0-7636-2167-6; Aug.)

Two tales that build on Joy Cowley's Mrs. Wishy-Washy character are now in board book editions. Mr. Wishy-Washy, illus. by Elizabeth Fuller, washes plates and bowls, pots and pans, "dishy-washy, dishy-washy." But when he accidentally washes the cat, watch out! In Mrs. Wishy-Washy Makes a Splash! it's bath time for the animals. They all run and hide—and it's Mrs. Wishy-Washy who ends up in the tub. (Philomel, $5.99 each 16p ages 1-3 ISBN 0-399-24200-7; -24201-5; Sept.)

Also new to the board-book format, Let's Play by Leo Lionni finds two playful mice climbing a tree, eating cheese, playing dress-up and having fun all day long. (Knopf, $6.99 26p 6 mos.-4 yrs. ISBN 0-375-82528-2; Aug.)

Two more board book entries with rhyming text by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober introduce masterpieces to youngest art lovers. In Dancing with Degas, children enter a magical world of ballerinas and tutus, and A Picnic with Monet takes children through the countryside and back to the city. At the end, the works are identified along with the museums where they are housed. (Chronicle, $6.95 each 22p ages 6 mos.-4 yrs. ISBN 0-8118-4047-6; -4046-8; Aug.)

Judith Kerr's popular feline, who has now passed away in picture books (Goodbye Mog), is still among the living in a quartet of board books: Mog and Me; Mog in the Garden; Mog's Family of Cats; and Mog's Kittens. The first title introduces the cat and her toddler buddy, from their morning stretch through an active day of play until bedtime. In Garden, cat and boy play together outside until the boy goes to bed and Mog plays alone. Family of Cats introduces Mog's relatives at Mog's third birthday; and in Kittens, Mog raises two kittens of her own, until they head to new homes and "Mog can sleep on [the boy's] bed again." Soft pastel illustrations lend a friendly, calm feeling to the adventures. (HarperCollins UK [Trafalgar Square, dist.], $4.50 each 16p ages 2-5 Mog and Me ISBN 0-00-138416-3; Garden -137476-1; Family of Cats -138415-5; Kittens -136000-0; July)

Cool Concepts

A bumper crop of concept books introduces young learners to the basics. The oversized, paper-over-board Down in the Daisies: A Baby Animal Counting Book by Lucy Coats, illus. by Emily Bolam, follows an Over-in-the-Meadow rhythm as it takes readers on a round-the-world journey to count baby animals in different environments, from one round-eyed seal pup "underneath the clifftops" to 10 squirmy tadpoles "underneath the willows/ In a soggy cloggy bog." (Orion [Trafalgar Sq., dist.], $16.95 32p ages 2-5 ISBN 1-85881-513-4; Aug.)

Soccer fans can count from one to 15 with Soccer Counts! by Barbara Barbieri McGrath and Peter Alderman, illus. by Pau Estrada. Two lines of rhyme showcase the numbers, as in "Six substitutes wait on the sidelines to play./ If teammates get tired, they'll help them this day," with additional text providing information on soccer's rules and history. (Charlesbridge, $16.95 32p ages 3-8 ISBN 1-57091-553-9; $6.95 paper -554-7; July)

McGrath also celebrates the 100th day of school in The M&M's Count to One Hundred Book. A rhyming text asks readers to line the candies up in rows of 10, two rows for each of the five colors, then count them one by one, or "skip count" by 10s, fives and twos. The finale shows them arranged as a smiley face. (Charlesbridge, $16.95 32p ages 4-9 ISBN 1-57091-570-9; $6.95 paper -571-7; July)

Counting goes bilingual in the paper-over-board My First Spanish Number Book/ Mi primer libro de números en español: A Bilingual Word Book by Jane Yorke. The signature DK layout shows children engaged in games with numbers and objects playfully arranged, such as domino-like sets of matching numerals and objects, a challenge to measure things using different parts of the body (such as un palmo, "a handspan") and a prompt to find number patterns. Concepts grow more complex as the book proceeds. (DK, $16.99 48p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-7894-9524-4; July)

Pizza Counting by Christina Dobson, illus. by Matthew Holmes, introduces kids to counting and fractions using decorated pizzas. Kids can make a grinning pizza face with varying numbers of vegetables and learn how many pizzas it would take to circle the Earth at the equator. Realistic artwork keeps the counting easy. (Charlesbridge, $16.95 32p ages 5-10 ISBN 0-88106-338-X; July)

My First Jumbo Letters: Learning Fun for Little Ones, illus. by James Diaz and Melanie Gerth, offers the alphabet in a paper-over-board format with flaps to lift, textures to touch, pull-tabs and pop-ups. Each page bursts with illustrations from an apple and armadillo to a yak and yo-yo, and readers can unfold a fan or rub an orangutan's hairy belly. In the last spread a camera-toting zebra kid pops up, while all around him (and in his pocket) are "photos" of animals from A to Z. Part of the same series, Things That Go, illus. by James Diaz, Gerth and Francesca Diaz offers similar interaction but with a cherry picker, submarine and space shuttle, among other modes of transport. (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $9.95 each 10p ages 3-5 ISBN 0-439-44325-3; -52463-6; July)

Baby Blue's Clues features the popular puppy from the Nick Jr. series in Blue's Colors: A Book and Blocks Play Set by Sonali Fry. A small board book depicts the canine watching a "small green frog" or playing in the sand ("Shovel is yellow and the sun is too"). Two blocks depict different colored objects found in the book, while a third names each color, so youngsters can match them and learn; all come packaged in a box with a transparent cover. (Simon Spotlight/Nickelodeon, $7.99 14p ages 1-4 ISBN 0-689-85502-8; July)

In Hands Can by Cheryl Willis Hudson, photos by John-Francis Bourke, a simple rhyming text and crisp photos of toddlers depict a number of activities to inspire youngsters to discover the world with their own hands. Beginning "Hands can wave to say 'hello.'/ Hands can touch things high and low," a multiracial cast of characters fold and mold, mix and fix, all against solid-colored backgrounds. (Candlewick, $14.99 32p ages 2-4 ISBN 0-7636-1667-2; Aug.)

The Growing Pains series debuts with a pair of paper-over-board titles by Lynne Gibbs, illus. by Melanie Mitchell: Ping Won't Share and Quiet as a Mouse. The first features a panda who selfishly hoards bamboo, only to have his friends move away in their search for food. The second title follows a shy mouse who tries to avoid a party, later surprising herself by having a wonderful time. Mitchell's illustrations more expressively portray the mouse family (the pandas seem stiff). (McGraw-Hill/Gingham Dog, $12.95 each 28p ages 2-5 ISBN 1-57768-480-X; -481-8; July)

Colors of the Sea: Pull and Play Books, by Jane Gerver, illus. by Caroline Jane Church, features a handle that readers pull to unfold the attached board book pages. Two lines of rhyming text describe sea creatures and introduce colors, as in "This fine fish is quite a fellow. Its front is purple, its back is yellow," accompanied by bright illustrations with thin black outline. (Reader's Digest, $6.99 10p ages 2-4 ISBN 0-7944-0047-7; July)

Poetry for Teacher's Pets

Two new titles playfully present the ups and downs of classroom life through poems. Put Your Eyes Up Here and Other School Poems by Kalli Dakos, illus. by G. Brian Karas, finds narrator Penny unnerved by her new teacher, Ms. Roys, who is not normal—for one thing, she has a collection of fake hands, and some weird jewelry: "Blue toilet bowls that really flush,/ We love her earrings—oh, so much!" But Ms. Roys's bag of tricks makes for a magical school experience in this collection of light verse sprinkled with cheerful b&w line drawings. (S&S, $16.95 64p ages 7-11 ISBN 0-689-81117-9; July)

In a larger size and with full-color art, Almost Late to School and More School Poems by Carol Diggory Shields, illus. by Paul Meisel, covers some of the same ground in less slyly subversive poems. The rhymes here list the terrors of giving an oral report and complain about detention ("I'm sitting in detention,/ And I feel like I've been framed./ Sitting in detention,/ I'm the one who got the blame"). Meisel's loose line and watercolor wash matches the breezy tone. (Dutton, $15.99 48p ages 6-10 ISBN 0-525-45743-7; July)