All A-Board!

Pile on the pepperoni, William Steig's Pete's a Pizza is now being served up in a board book format. Pete's father knows just how to cheer up his son on a rainy day—by making him into a pizza! He kneads and stretches Pete like dough, and whirls him up in the air. In a starred review of the hardcover (published in 1998), PW said, "The amiable quality of Steig's easy pizza recipe will amuse chef and entrée alike." (HarperFestival, $6.99 32p 6 mos.-3 yrs. ISBN 0-06-052754-4; Aug.)

Three funny, spirited board books by Leslie Patricelli explore opposites. In BIG Little, heads are BIG, but toes are little. Ladies are BIG but ladybugs are little. Clever pairings, bold graphic art and an expressive toddler in diapers make the concepts fun. The other titles are Quiet Loud ("Crayons are quiet. Pots and pans are LOUD") and Yummy Yucky ("Spaghetti is yummy. Worms are yucky"). (Candlewick, $6.99 each 24p ages 1-3 ISBN 0-7636-1951-5; -1952-3; -1950-7; Sept.)

In Autumn Walk by Ann Burg, illus. by Kelly Asbury, die-cut in the shape of a leaf, a cheerful puppy goes out to play with falling leaves: "Fistsful of red, armsful of gold—/ throw them up high and jump!/ Bunches of scrunches and crunches of color/ land in a crinkly lump!" In the snowflake-shaped Winter Walk from the same team, a cat gets bundled up to play in the glistening snow. (HarperFestival, $5.99 18p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-06-009741-8; -009742-6; Sept.)

Two intriguing books by Keith Baker invite toddlers to see the world differently. In Who Is the Beast?, the animals of a lush, multi-patterned jungle "see his stripes, yellow and black" as well as the beast's tail, strong legs and green eyes. All clues point to the tiger, but a surprise ending imparts the gentle lesson that we are all more alike than we are different. In Quack and Count, seven ducklings splash and play in different combinations that introduce basic addition: "7 ducklings, 5 plus 2/ Playing games of peekaboo." Collage art fills the jungle and pond life scenes with a riot of colors and textures. (Harcourt/Red Wagon, $6.95 each 28p 6 mos.-3 yrs ISBN 0-15-204752-2; -204751-4; Sept.)

Two favorite rhymes inspire the nursery-colored artwork of Penny Dann: Eensy Weensy Spider, featuring humorous illustrations of a spider with a top hat and umbrella, plus pictures of adults and children demonstrating the appropriate finger motions; and Five Little Ducks, the popular countdown rhyme about Mother Duck and her five little ones. (Barron's, $3.95 each 16p ages 1-3 ISBN 0-7641-5662-4; -5663-2; Sept.)

Bookshelf Buddies

Several picture-book companions join the ranks this season. Dumpy and the Firefighters by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton, illus. by Tony Walton, is the latest book starring the amiable dump truck. Dumpy has his work cut out for him, clearing the routes for Farmer Barnes' New Year's Day Open House. But when the general store catches fire, and the firefighters need help navigating the ice, Dumpy plays a special role. (HarperCollins/Andrews Collection, $15.99 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-06-052681-5; Sept.)

From Nancy Tafuri comes You Are Special, Little One, a follow-up to her earlier I Love You, Little One. Cozy scenes set on savannah, ice floe and pond depict Mama and Papa lions, penguins, beavers and more telling their little ones the ways in which they're special. The comforting message "we will love you/ forever and ever and always" repeats throughout the book, which ends with a warm embrace between a child and his parents. (Scholastic, $16.95 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-439-39879-7; Sept.)

Fire Storm by Jean Craighead George, illus. by Wendell Minor, the second book in the Outdoor Adventures series, which launched with Cliff Hanger, reads like an episode from an adventure novel. This time, Axel (once again accompanied by his dog, Grits) kayaks down the Salmon River with his aunt and uncle—until a forest fire surrounds them and Axel's quick thinking saves the day. In Minor's dramatic paintings, the golden fire is both menacing and beautiful; smoke rises like mist in the trees. George uses the graceful metaphor of the phoenix to reassure both Axel and readers that the forest's devastation will not last forever. (HarperCollins/Tegen, $15.99 32p ages 6-10 ISBN 0-06-000263-8; Sept.)

Where Is Little Reynard? by Joyce Carol Oates, illus. by Mark Graham, stars Lily and the Smith family from their Come Meet Muffin!, plus the orange runt of a litter of kittens. Little Reynard is the odd furball out ("His sisters laughed at his unusual color. And his brothers teased him because he was so small. This made him shy"). But when he spies a family of foxes, he is emboldened by the fact that the cubs share his burnt-orange coloring, the kitten is soon scampering through the forest with his new friends. (HarperCollins, $15.99 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-06-029559-7; Sept.)

Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies, illus. by James Croft, joins the author's Wild About Dolphins and One Tiny Turtle in its playful presentation of surprising nature facts. Readers learn about the dwarf lantern shark (only six inches long) and the swell shark, which swallows water to blow up to three times its normal size when chased by a predator. Inset illustrations and captions offer additional details (e.g., a detail of a dogfish explains that their eggs are called "mermaids' purses"); labeled diagrams help youngsters familiarize themselves with dorsal and pectoral fins, etc. (Candlewick, $15.99 32p ages 5-up ISBN 0-7637-2185-4; Sept.)

In a quartet of companion books this fall, the photographs steal the show. Chock-full of detailed photos for the most determined I Spy fans, Walter Wick's Can You See What I See? Dream Machine: A Picture Adventure to Search and Solve contains 12 elaborate scenes with hidden objects to find. This follow-up to Wick's bestseller Can You See What I See? progresses from a child's bedroom to a dream world of futuristic cities, robots and strange contraptions. (Scholastic/ Cartwheel, $14.95 40p all ages ISBN 0-439-39950-5; Sept.)

From the team behind How Are You Peeling? and Dog Food comes another delightful book based on photos of fruit and vegetable carvings, Baby Food by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers. From a wide-eyed piglet carved out of an orange to a whale calf fashioned from an eggplant, these baby animal portraits are both clever and cute. (Scholastic/Levine, $12.95 32p all ages ISBN 0-439-11017-3; Sept.)

My Big Sister by Valorie Fisher follows on the heels of her My Big Brother to introduce a loving big sister from a baby's perspective. Once again, baby's-eye view photographs depict the sibling from ground level, with shots that focus on her feet, a toy animal zoo, and expressive kisses and scowls. (Atheneum/ Schwartz, $14.95 40p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-689-85479-X; Sept.) Having conquered the jungle in We're Going on Safari, Tom Arma's band of babies now hit the beach in We're Going on a Treasure Hunt by Lenny Hort. As an unseen narrator invites readers to join the treasure hunt, Arma's funny photos feature a baby starfish in an orange five-pointed number, a baby on the half-shell (as an oyster) and even a pink-tentacled baby octopus floating among large bubbles, who point readers to the chest of gold. Arma's photo-editing techniques create seemingly impossible images with a hyperreal look. (Abrams, $12.95 40p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-8109-4654-8; Oct.)