They're Back!

Favorite friends return for further adventures. Froggy becomes a big brother in the latest addition to the Froggy series, Froggy's Baby Sister by Jonathan London, illus. by Frank Remkiewicz. "Frrooggyy!" calls his father. "Come see the baby!" Froggy can't wait until Pollywogilina grows a little bigger, so he can teach her how to catch flies and jump off a swing. (Viking, $15.99 32p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-670-03659-5; Sept.)

In Iris and Walter and Cousin Howie by Elissa Haden Guest, illus. by Christine Davenier, the sixth tale about the two best friends, Walter's favorite cousin Howie visits, and Iris can't wait to meet him. But bossy Howie won't teach her any magic tricks. Iris is miserable until Grandpa reminds her that she and Walter are still best friends—and points out another source for learning magic tricks.(Harcourt/Gulliver, $15 44p ages 6-9 ISBN 0-15-216695-5; Sept.)

The playful hero returns in his third book, Platypus and the Birthday Party by Chris Riddell. Platypus and his friend Echidna, a spiny-coated fellow (similar to a porcupine) host a birthday party for Bruce, a toy platypus. Together they make an "echidna cake," blow up balloons, which pop on Echidna's quills, and make decorations. The party is so much fun that Platypus says "Let's have another one tomorrow!" Humorous, expressive illustrations of the duck-billed, web-footed Platypus and his quill-covered friend complement the buoyant text. (Harcourt, $16 32p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-15-204753-0; Sept.)

The star of Daisy the Firecow returns in Daisy the Dancing Cow by Viki Woodworth. Daisy wants to try out for the local theater's dance auditions (a sign reads "Hoofers needed"). Even though she can stomp, hop and step with the best of 'em, the director does not want to cast a cow—until one of the dancers is injured on opening night, and Daisy saves the show! (Boyds Mills, $15.95 32p ages 4-7 ISBN 1-59078-059-0; Sept.)

Spend a year with Amelia in Amelia's Best Year Ever: Favorite Amelia Stories from American Girl Magazine by Marissa Moss. Amelia shares stories from the beginning of the school year to summer days at the pool in her characteristic notebook diary format. She introduces each season with scrapbook pages of best and worst things: "What I love about winter: toe socks—they're like gloves for your feet!... Bad things about winter: icicles dripping from your nose." (Pleasant/American Girl, $12.95 40p ages 8-up ISBN 1-58485-713-7; $5.95 paper -712-9; Sept.)

The little mouse who loves to dance returns in Angelina Ballerina's Invitation to the Ballet by Katharine Holabird, illus. by Helen Craig. Angelina wins two tickets to the ballet, but none of her friends can go with her because they've all received mail of their own. Six envelopes bound into the book contain invitations, letters, cards and a Cindermouse ballet poster. (Pleasant/American Girl, $17.95 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 1-58485-757-9; Sept.)

Dick Bruna's little white bunny stars in Miffy's Book of Friendship, "based on the stories by Dick Bruna," with text by Andra Serlin. In this miniature edition, Miffy and her friends—Boris and Barbara the bears, Poppy and Grunty the pigs, and Snuffy the dog, all rendered in Bruna's signature solid black outline with bold, saturated colors—demonstrate that friendship means caring for each other during happy times... and sad times. (Running Press, $4.95 56p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-7624-1648-3; Aug.)

In Miffy the Ghost by Dick Bruna, the bunny decides to dress up as a ghost one day. Her mother cuts two eye holes in a sheet, making Miffy look rather like a giant tooth. The heroine has fun frightening her friends and her Aunt Alice, until she decides she'd rather play with them than scare them. (Big Tent Entertainment [212-604-0064], $7.99 32p ages 2-5 ISBN 1-59226-063-2; Sept.)

Happy Anniversary, Cricket!

Cricket magazine marks a publishing milestone with Celebrate Cricket: 30 Years of Stories and Art, ed. by Cricket's founder and editor-in-chief, Marianne Carus. This attractive volume includes writers such as Lloyd Alexander, who published an essay about meeting Gertrude Stein in 1945 Paris (in the January 1977 issue); Walter Dean Myers, whose "The Cub" is about a grandfather and grandson's attempt to free a trapped cub (and sidestep its mother); and Jane Yolen, who pens several poems. David McPhail's artwork brings to life a translation of Isaac Bashevis Singer's "The Fools of Chelm and the Stupid Carp"; Quentin Blake's spot illustrations chart the transformation of "The Cat Who Became a Poet" by Margaret Mahy; and the frogs in David Wiesner's March 1989 Cricket cover illustration, "Air Raid," bears a striking likeness to the stars of his Caldecott medal—winning Tuesday (in an essay, Wiesner credits the cover as the book's inspiration). Brief biographies of authors and artists, and reminiscences from the magazine's editors and art directors round out this overview history, and a 16-page color insert depicts some favorite magazine covers. (Cricket, $24.95 272p all ages ISBN 0-812-62695-8; Sept.)

Back to School

Readers can head back to class with popular characters in a handful of titles. Rosemary Wells's playful bunny stars in Emily and Friends: Playtime Learning Box, a fun-filled kindergarten kit featuring Emily's First 100 Days of School, about which PW wrote, "This oversize volume scores big." As Emily finds something new to do every day, such as learning to sing "Tea for Two" on day 2, and playing Twenty Questions on day 20, youngsters can join in the fun by pulling out various add-ons from the sturdy box (with Velcro closures and a plastic handle). A deck of original Rosemary Wells 52-deck playing cards, 100 playtime learning cards with games and activities that relate to the book, a growth chart, a poster with 100 corresponding number stickers, a sheet of achievement stickers and a ruler all add to readers' learning enjoyment. (Hyperion, $19.99 56p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-7868-0868-3; Aug.)

Everyone's favorite elephant, first created by Jean de Brunhoff and continued by his son Laurent de Brunhoff is back in the paper-over-board Babar Goes to School, with text by Ellen Weiss, and with images adapted by Jean-Claude Gilbert. When Babar's children tell him that being a kid isn't always easy, he decides to go to school for a day, where he discovers that it can sometimes be hard work to learn lessons and do as he's told. (Abrams, $9.95 32p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-8109-4582-7; Aug.)

The paper-over-board Junior Goes to School by Samantha Berger and Lisa Huberman Viscardi, illus. by Daniel Moreton, is the latest tale about the piglet with personality. Junior is so worried about the first day of school that he can't sleep. "What if I look for the bus outside, and a camel pulls up instead of my ride?" Kids can turn the wheel built into the page to change the text and image of the camel to a hamster, bathtub, toaster and more. The results will tickle the funny bone. (Abrams, $10.95 14p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-8109-4574-6; Aug.)

In Hello Kitty: Hello School! Book & Finger Puppets, illus. by Jean Hirashima, the white feline and her friends each tap into different talents at school and decide to put on a show. Kids can join in the fun with the three fabric and plush finger puppets and fold-out stage that come packaged with the book (visible through an acetate window). Beginning with "Hello A! Hello Artist!" and continuing to "Hello Z! Hello Zoologist!," the popular heroine imagines all of the interesting things she could be when she grows up, in Hello Kitty: What Will I Be A to Z?, illus. by Higashi Glaser. A full spread of punch-out alphabet stencils is bound in at the end. (Abrams, $12.95 each ages 4-8 ISBN 0-8109-4596-7; -4595-9; Sept.)

Piggy has a hard time saying good-bye on the first day of preschool in Bye, Bye! by Nancy Kaufmann. Jung-Hee Spetter's endearing Piggy, from Just a Minute! and Piggy's Birthday Dream, asks Daddy to stay and play. But when the teacher tells Daddy it's time to leave, Piggy has fun playing with a menagerie of other classmates. Lively illustrations in Spetter's trademark citrus colors capture both the fun and anxiety. (Front Street/Lemniscaat, $14.95 32p ages 2-6 ISBN 1-886910-95-2; Aug.)

I.Q. Goes to the Library by Mary Ann Fraser follows the classroom mouse first introduced in I.Q. Goes to School. Here, he is tickled when the school librarian reads a funny book to his class. He returns to the library every day in search of the book she read (meanwhile he learns about the different types of books available there). What he really wants is his own library card so he can check out the funny book for himself. (Walker, $15.95 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-8027-8877-7; Aug.)

Play and Learn

An array of new titles allow for interactive fun while learning new concepts. Learning with Animals by Mélanie Watt contains five small books tucked into sturdy book covers that creates the appearance of a single tall book (approx. 7" x 14") when closed. The Alphabet features wild animals from Alligator to Zebra, with the capital and lower-case version of the letter, an inset portrait of the animal and its name printed beneath. Numbers counts farm animals. Shapes features ocean animals, including a round puffer fish and a starfish. Colors focuses on tropical creatures, and Opposites features Arctic animals, such as big and small polar bears, and wet and dry seals. Although removable, the books are securely fitted into the board with their back covers tucked behind an acetate layer, so they can be read and enjoyed without having to remove them. (Kids Can, $16.95 24p each ages 2-5 ISBN 1-55337-341-3; Sept.)

Two new Memory Match Game titles by Lee Vietro, illus. by Shelley Meredith Delice—Letter Hunt: A Phonics Lift-the-Flap Book and Number Hunt—use flaps and punch-out pieces to create games that reinforce phonics skills by identifying starting sounds and naming pictures in the first title, number identification, counting and simple addition in the second. (Innovative Kids, $9.99 12p ages 3-7 ISBN 1-58476-205-5; -206-3; Oct.)

For more interactive learning, the paper-over-board At School: A Lift-the-Flap Learning Book by Pittau & Gervais has flaps and moving parts on every page. Flaps include the basics like colors, numbers and letters, as well as less common topics: One page shows vegetables—lift the flaps to see how they grow in the ground. A fun spread about animals shows a big imaginary beast made up from different animal attributes; readers lift the flaps to discover that the trunk comes from an elephant, the orange-and-black striped fur from a tiger, the curly tail from a pig and more. (Chronicle, $12.95 14p ages 2-6 ISBN 2-02-059953-8; Oct.)

Favorite stories and poems teach lessons about good behavior in Everyday Graces: A Child's Book of Good Manners, edited by Karen Santorum. Organized into topics such as "Good Manners at Home," "Using Words Wisely" and "Table Manners," the selections include poems such as Jack Prelutsky's "Why Do I Have to Clean My Room?" and "Politeness" by A.A. Milne, plus fables from Aesop and tales from Mother Goose. Each is followed by Santorum's brief commentary on the morals learned. An excerpt from Anne of Green Gables, for instance, teaches readers how not to behave in school; an episode from Pinocchio serves as "a good example... of how we can all take care of the sick and help ease their suffering." (ISI Books [800-526-7022], $25 450p ages 3-up ISBN 1-932236-09-0; Sept.)