True Companions

Favorite friends return for new picture-book adventures. Flop-eared pup Otis stars in his third adventure, Dog Gone by Amanda Harvey, set at the Misty Meadow dog hotel. Otis wonders when Lucy will come back for him ("See you soon, lovely Otis," she says). After a scary attempt to find his way home ("leaping over thorny hedges" and "racing through herds of woolly beasts"), Otis returns to the safety of the hotel. Otis's latest should be a comfort to children reluctant to leave a pet behind. (Doubleday, $15.95 32p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-385-74639-3; Mar.)

The Mud Hole sees some renewed action in Bubba and Beau Meet the Relatives by Kathi Appelt, illus. by Arthur Howard. About the series' first book, Bubba and Beau: Best Friends, PW wrote, "Appelt's fond voice and Howard's good-humored drawings combine to suggest an easygoing, distinctly Texan family life." In this third title, the arrival of Bubba's "froufrou" relatives makes things a bit uncomfortable for Bubba at first. But it's not long before a trip to the Mud Hole and its aftermath leads to a "picture-perfect moment in Bubbaville." (Harcourt, $16 32p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-15-216630-0; Apr.)

Michel Gay's brazen zebra, first introduced in Zee, returns in Zee Is Not Afraid. The youngster is "furious" when his parents won't let him watch a scary movie on TV, so he decides to dress up like a ghost to startle his parents—a plan that backfires when he gets scared himself. (Clarion, $15 32p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-618-43931-5; Mar.)

Bad Bears in the Big City: AnIrving and Muktuk Story by Daniel Pinkwater, illus. by Jill Pinkwater, finds the muffin-thieving polar bears sent in shackles from their home in Yellowtooth to the Bayonne, N.J., zoo. A note from Yellowtooth's Officer Bunny ("We hope you enjoy our bears. Remember, they are not to be trusted!") ensures that the bears are confined to the zoo, but the muffin factory next door provides too great a temptation. (Houghton, $16 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-618-25208-8; Mar.)

Keith Baker's reptile couple returns for More Mr. and Mrs. Green, formatted as a beginning reader. Like its predecessor, their lives unfold in a three-chapter format, including Mrs. Green's less-than-lucky day fishing, her latest avant-garde portrait of Mr. Green and an eventful day at the park. Baker's illustrations bring verdant vivacity to the duo's rich lives. Also Meet Mr. and Mrs. Green has been reformatted as a beginning reader in both hardcover and paperback. (Harcourt, $16 each 72p ages 6-9 ISBN 0-15-216494-4; Meet Mr. and Mrs. Green -204954-1; paper $5.95 -204955-X; Mar.)

After conquering the high seas in Little Rat Sets Sail, the ever-ambitious hero saddles up in Little Rat Rides by Monika Bang-Campbell, illus. by Molly Bang. Little Rat hopes to ride horseback in the big Fourth of July parade, just like her father—despite the sneering Chrissy Goat and a bevy of "bumps and bruises." (Harcourt, $15 48p ages 6-9 ISBN 0-15-204667-4; Apr.)

Three Stories You Can Read to Your Teddy Bear by Sara Swan Miller, illus. by True Kelley, follows earlier books to be read to dogs and cats (perhaps targeted to children who aren't allowed pets). The second-person narrative proffers three stories about Teddy when his friend leaves each day (ostensibly for school). With a newly discovered ability to walk, Teddy sets out to explore the house; his exuberance is tempered by a healthy number of "bonks" to the nose as he tends to fall flat on his face every few steps. (Houghton, $15 48p ages 6-9 ISBN 0-618-30397-9; Mar.)

Seventh in the series, Flying Feet: A Mud Flat Story by James Stevenson brings dreams of dancing to the small town. When "the famous dance team of Tonya and Ted" roll into Mud Flat, Stan and everyone else wants to be in their big show. The dancers, however, turn out to be deceivers. Stan decides the show must go on, and the town pulls together to give a fantastic performance. Stevenson's pen-and-ink and watercolor wash artwork paints characters as light on their toes as ever. (HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.99 48p ages 5-up ISBN 0-06-051975-4; Mar.)

Many Happy Returns

A number of newly reissued classics aim to entertain new generations of readers. The Happy Lion by Louise Fatio, illus. by Roger Duvoisin, returns to celebrate its 50th anniversary. In the first of what was a series of 10 books, set in a provincial French town, this tale follows the hero after the door to his zoo is left open. The lion visits all the kind people who see him daily and grows confused by their terrified reactions. Duvoisin adds a charming mix of b&w and three-color illustrations of the scruffy protagonist. (Knopf, $14.95 40p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-375-82759-5; Feb.)

A new generation of readers can enjoy 10 classic tales by Louisa May Alcott in the paper-over-board The Brownie and the Princess and Other Stories, originally published separately in children's magazines during the author's lifetime (and collectively with two other stories as A Round Dozen in 1963). The tales include the title story, wherein a girl is granted the ability to understand the speech of birds; and "The Silver Party" in which a family's dinnerware comes to life on Thanksgiving, to dance, revel and mock the poor habits of the diners. (HarperCollins, $9.99 256p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-06-000083-X; Feb.)

Troublesome houseguests overstay their welcome in Stopping for a Spell (1993) by Diana Wynne Jones, including an unruly armchair in "Chair Person," monstrous matriarchs in "The Four Grannies" and a rude old friend in "Who Got Rid of Angus Flint?" Of the original, PW noted, "These three stories brim with the wry takes on everyday situations that have made Jones's novels so howlingly funny." (HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.99 144p ages 8-up ISBN 0-06-056205-6; Mar.)

And Then What Happened?

Series fans can discover the latest doings of favorite characters in a number of spring novels. The globetrotter returns to Europe in With Love from Spain, Melanie Martin by Carol Weston, the third of the heroine's diary-style, first-person adventures. Beyond Melanie's crush on a young Spaniard and her mother meeting up with an old flame, the book features a healthy amount of Spanish art, history and vocabulary, translated quasi-phonetically by the spunky narrator, from "toreros (Tore Air Ohs)" to "caballero (Cob Eye Yair Oh)." (Knopf, $17.99 256p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-375-82646-7; Jan.)

Mimmy and Sophie: All Around the Town by Miriam Cohen, illus. by Thomas F. Yezerski, brings back the playful sisters and their everyday doings in their Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood during the Depression. Yezerski's b&w drawings depict the siblings and their friends digging for treasure, riding a carousel and heading to the movie house. About Mimmy and Sophie, PW said, Cohen "injects a hearty dose of charm into the low-key, slice-of-life-style plot lines through her sympathetic and well-trained recall for children's voices and perceptions." (FSG/ Foster, $16 80p ages 7-10 ISBN 0-374-34989-4; Mar.)

The second in Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom series, Grim Tuesday, brings back Arthur Penhaligon after his defeat of the titular villain in Mister Monday. While a new nemesis, Grim Tuesday, attempts to challenge Arthur for control of his key, the young hero must deal with Nithlings, a shape-changing Scoucher and Grim's band of seven Grotesques. (Scholastic, $5.99 paper 318p ages 8-12 ISBN 0-439-43655-9; Jan.)

Colman by the late Monica Furlong completes the series that began with Wise Child, which PW called "an intriguing portrayal of an ancient way of life." Here, young Colman, who escaped his native land with Wise Child and Juniper after Juniper's witch trial, begins to discover magical abilities of his own. Meanwhile, he and the others travel back to Cornwall where they must infiltrate the castle of Juniper's relatives—who have usurped her brother's rightful throne. (Random, $15.95 288p ages 10-up ISBN 0-375-81514-7; Feb.)

Catherine Jinks's Pagan in Exile follows Pagan's Crusade, which, according to PW, "turns medieval history into fodder for both high comedy and allegory." Pagan and Lord Roland travel to France in this adventure and are forced to exorcise ghosts from Lord Roland's past in the form of his duplicitous family members. (Candlewick, $15.99 336p ages 13-up ISBN 0-7636-2020-3; Feb.)