The Science of Dragonology

With its faux-leather, gemstone-encrusted cover and timeworn pages, Dr. Ernest Drake's Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons, ed. by Dugald A. Steer, "purports to be the facsimile of an 1895 [book]" (according to a publisher's note), and is quite convincing as the long-lost research of 19th-century dragonologist Drake. Presenting a "scientific" study of dragons, the volume examines the different dragon species and their behavior, using fold-out flaps, patches of textured "skin" or "membranes," and sample science-notebook—style labeled drawings. In addition to the clever text and persuasive illustrations by Helen Ward, Douglas Carrel and Wayne Anderson, the interactive book includes an insert on dragon script, a mini-book of dragon riddles and a glass dragon eye bound into the back cover. An afterword concludes, "Cherish all animals. Then one day the world may at last learn to accept the honourable science of dragonology." (Candlewick, $18.99 32p ages 8-up ISBN 0-7636-2329-6; Nov.)

All Aboard!

Popular picture books now appearing in the sturdy format and board book originals gather together in a variety of favorite subjects. Chris Raschka's Charlie Parker Played Be Bop makes the transition to board gracefully, with its one line of text per spread and its bold graphics of the stunning saxophonist. PW wrote of the original picture book published in 1992, "Regardless of whether they've heard of jazz or Charlie Parker, young readers will bop to the pulsating beat of this sassy picture book." (Scholastic/Orchard, $6.99 14p ages 1-5 ISBN 0-439-57823-X; Mar.)

In I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illus. by E.B. Lewis, the narrator loves the nightly ritual of her mother combing her hair (it is "thick as a forest, soft as cotton candy, and curly as a vine winding upward, reaching the sky." About the 1998 hardcover, PW said, "In this gracefully told story, a young African-American heroine celebrates her lovely head of hair as part of her heritage." (Little, Brown, $6.99 22p ages 6 mos.-5 yrs. ISBN 0-316-52558-8; Nov.)

The toddler hero first introduced in Supercat returns for an exciting new board book adventure, Supercat to the Rescue by Kate McMullan, illus. by Pascal Lemaître. The feline caped crusader and his floppy sidekick, Supermouse, once again swoop to earth to fight boring vegetables, bonked knees and scary nights, exclaiming "Meowie Wowie!" in response to every crisis. (Workman, $6.95 32p ages 2-4 ISBN 0-7611-2734-8; Nov.)

A new addition to the World Snacks board book series, Yum Yum Dim Sum by Amy Wilson Sanger uses the enticing names ("oolong tea"; "ha gau" housed in bamboo steamers, etc.) and delectable collage images good enough to eat to explore a Chinese family-style meal. A glossary on the back describes the mysterious contents of the exotic foods. (Tricycle, $6.95 18p ages 1-3 ISBN 1-58246-108-2; Nov.)

Adorable pooches fill the pages of Busy Doggies by John Schindel, with photos by Beverly Sparks. From "Doggies greeting/ Doggies eating" to "Doggy diving/ Doggy... driving?" a variety of canines appear in cute, funny photos with rhyming couplets. (Tricycle, $6.95 18p ages 1-3 ISBN 1-58246-090-6; Oct.)

Harriet Ziefert and Caldecott Honor artist Simms Taback team up for two oversize board books designed to encourage toddlers to join in with animal noises and movements. "Can you baa like a sheep?/ Sing like a bird?/ Whinny like a horse ahead of the herd?" asks Noisy Barn! While Zoo Parade! invites youngsters to get on their feet: "Can you prance like a lion?/ Dance like a gazelle?/ Run like a baboon with a high-pitched yell?" Taback's signature black line and bright, bold colors add to the energy of the text. (Handprint/Blue Apple [Chronicle, dist.], $8.95 each 14p ages 1-4 ISBN 1-59354-013-2; -014-0; Nov.)

A similarly oversize version of the folksong Fiddle-I-Fee by Santiago Cohen also encourages youngsters to chime in with animal names and sounds in a cumulative rhyme: "I had a horse and the horse pleased me,/ And I fed my horse under yonder tree./ Horse goes neigh-neigh.../ Hen goes chimmy-chuck, chimmy-chuck.../ Cat goes fiddle-i-fee." Cohen's off-kilter color scheme (the cat is green, the pig yellow) plays up the fun. (Handprint/Blue Apple, $7.95 14p ages 1-4 ISBN 1-59354-020-5; Nov.)

Lyrical Language

Diverse selections of poetry celebrate culture and history. In the latest addition to a series of books based on song lyrics, God Bless the Child, the words of the song co-written by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr. and made famous by Lady Day give rise to breathtaking watercolor scenes, many of them wordless spreads, by Jerry Pinkney. In a dedication he credits Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series as his inspiration for a visual narrative about a family's move North in the 1930s; Pinkney begins with a family gathered around the Bible at a time when education for African-Americans was not encouraged ("Them that's got shall get,/ Them that's not shall lose,/ So the Bible said,/ And it still is news"). The children find joy in a dousing at the water pump or chasing a butterfly ("God bless the child/ That's got his own"). Poignant consecutive wordless spreads show the home the family has left behind, then Chicago's elevated train stretching to the horizon; here "Mama may have,/ Papa may have" takes on another dimension, as the parents work in factories with a promise of hope. A final image shows their son at school—a dream fulfilled. Repeated viewings reveal an extraordinary level of detail and a visual and narrative movement that echoes the family's journey. (HarperCollins/Amistad, $16.99 32p all ages ISBN 0-06-028797-7; Jan.)

Talking Drums: A Selection of Poems from Africa South of the Sahara, ed. by Véronique Tadjo, also explores ancient cultural traditions. Drawn from Africa's rich history of oral narrative passed down through the generations, the compilation contains a mix of traditional poems and selections by more recent poets, and is divided into seven thematic sections. In the poem "Telephone Conversation," Nigerian poet Wole Soyinka writes, "The price seemed reasonable, location/ Indifferent. The landlady swore she lived/ Off premises. Nothing remained/ But self-confession. 'Madam,' I warned,/ 'I hate a wasted journey—I am African.' " (Bloomsbury, $15.95 96p ages 10-up ISBN 1-58234-813-8; Jan.)

Powerful Words: More Than 200 Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans, ed. by Wade Hudson, illus. by Sean Qualls, with a foreword by Marian Wright Edelman, combines the poetic words of the likes of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston and the song lyrics of James Weldon Johnson and J. Rosamond Johnson's "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" along with excerpts from Thurgood Marshall's Summary of Argument for Brown v. Board of Education; Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech delivered at Lincoln University (June 6, 1961) and Malcolm X's address at the Hotel Theresa in New York City (Dec. 31, 1964). (Scholastic Reference, $19.95 192p ages 9-12 ISBN 0-439-40969-1; Feb.)

Happy Anniversary!

A number of classic children's books return in milestone and reissued editions for a new generation. J.M. Barrie's enchanting Peter Pan: 100th Anniversary Edition features a large trim for reading aloud and rich, detailed illustrations by Michael Hague (which he originally published in 1987). Peter Pan's flyaway red hair and tattered garment of "skeleton leaves and the juices that ooze out of trees" capture the free spirit of the boy who refused to grow up. (Holt, $19.95 168p all ages ISBN 0-8050-7245-4; Oct.)

Another title celebrating a century marker, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin, appears with new illustrations by Barbara McClintock. Her signature artwork with its period details, which appears as full-color plates throughout, seems particularly well suited to this cheery heroine. The illustrations impart a cozy, familiar feel to a long-ago world, and reveals a lively, generous spirit in the heroine who leaves her home to live with her two elderly aunts. (Houghton, $20 304p ages 10-up ISBN 0-618-34694-5; Oct.)

For 50 years, fans have enjoyed Mary Norton's classic story of The Borrowers, the tiny family (Pod, Homily and their daughter, Arrietty) that secretly lives under the floorboards. This new gift edition features sepia-toned pen-and-inks that Diana Stanley drew for the original 1952 British edition a new foreword by Leonard Marcus explains the book's history, and a ribbon bookmark keeps the place for avid fans. (Harcourt, $19.95 176p ages 8-up ISBN 0-15-204928-2; Oct.)

Maurice Sendak's illustrations grace The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm, trans. by Lore Segal and Randall Jarrell, and originally published 30 years ago. This elegant collector's edition; also with a bound-in ribbon placeholder, includes 27 tales carefully chosen by Segal and Sendak, from the familiar ("Hansel and Gretel") to nearly forgotten tales such as the disturbing title story, in which a wicked stepmother is punished for a horrifying crime. Sendak's masterful illustrations, from the startling cover image of the kidnappers of "The Goblins" carrying a large human baby, to the portrait of a well-dressed lion who advises a king in "The Twelve Huntsmen," exude his humor and imagination. (FSG, $28 352p all ages ISBN 0-374-33971-6; Oct.)