True Companions

Favorite friends and series contribute to a bouquet of spring books. A follow-up to What's the Matter, Davy?, Davy in the Middle by Brigitte Weninger, illus. by Eve Tharlet, finds the beleaguered bunny feeling lost and lonesome: "I'm never allowed to do what I want. I'm too small or too big to do anything fun, but whenever anyone needs me to do something for them, I'm just right." Davy's whole family comes together to show him how much they do care. (North-South, $15.95 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-7358-1933-5; Apr.)

From the team behind Squarehead comes Rockheads by Harriet Ziefert, illus. by Todd McKie, a rhyming counting book featuring a cast of friends that expands to 12 ("Our cheerleading squad totals ten./ Can you guess which kid is Jen?"). Their heads, which perch upon flat, childlike illustrations drawn with heavy black outlines, are photographed rocks, with simple features painted in black and white. (Houghton/Lorraine, $16 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-618-34574-4; Apr.)

The black Lab PW called "one endearing pooch" is back in Sally Goes to the Vet by Stephen Huneck. Not enjoying the rainy weather ("I have been stuck inside with nothing to do," Sally muses amid piles of shredded passports, homework and shoes), she literally leaps at the chance to play on a sunny day. Unfortunately, her exuberant game of chase with a cat ends with a trip to the vet. (Abrams, $17.95 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-8109-4813-3; Apr.)

Just in time for school's end, Hello Kitty's Graduation Day by Jean Hirashima, includes a removable cardboard frame ready for a photo of a youngster's big day. When a wayward gust of wind scatters the notes for the effervescent kitten's graduation speech, she seeks help from her friends in writing a new one: "I know so many smart people. I'll ask each of them what they think about graduation." (Abrams, $12.95 24p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-8109-4818-4; May)

The energetic elephant returns in Bernard Wants a Baby by Joan Goodman, illus. by Dominic Catalano, this time impatient for a new baby brother—but he only wants one on his terms. When Mama has triplets, Bernard must adjust: "When Sadie slept, both Max and Sue cried. Sue spit up, too. 'Take her back,' said Bernard." (Boyds Mills, $15.95 32p ages 2-5 ISBN 1-59078-088-4; Apr.)

The lovable pup stars in two paper-over-board titles by Todd Parr: Otto Has a Birthday Party and Otto Goes to Camp. In the first, Otto tests his culinary skills, making a cake for his party (using shoes, bones and a hot dog, among other ingredients), while the second finds the canine packing his favorite bone, stick and cherry pie for a trip to the wilderness. (Little, Brown/Tingley, $9.95 each 24p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-316-73907-3;-73900-6; Apr.)

In the fourth in the series that began with Moses Goes to a Concert, Moses Sees a Play, Isaac Millman blends how-to diagrams of American Sign Language with the deaf hero's continuing story. Here a new boy joins Moses's school and the whole class sees a performance of Cinderella, acted by the Little Theatre of the Deaf. (FSG/Foster, $16 32p ages 4-6 ISBN 0-374-35066-3; Apr.)

Fourth in the Grandmother Stories series, which focuses on Cherokee history and legend, Rabbit and the Bears by Deborah Duvall, illus. by Murv Jacob, follows the trickster rabbit Ji-Stu and Yona, a bear, as winter approaches. Yona brings Ji-Stu up into the Smoky Mountains to Lake Ata-Gahi, a sacred and hidden refuge for all animals. Everyone shares food, stories and songs before the bears must prepare for hibernation. Jacob, a descendant of Kentucky Cherokees, creates b&w illustrations that resemble woodcuts and take on a vintage printmaking quality. (University of New Mexico Press [505-277-2346], $14.95 32p ages 9-12 ISBN 0-8263-3131-9; Apr.)

A year's worth of daily activities fills I Live in Brooklyn by Mari Takabayashi, a companion to I Live in Tokyo. A girl who lives with her family in Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens takes readers through her routines (chasing the B75 bus each morning with her mother) and special events, such as trips to the Central Park Zoo and Coney Island, as she lists her favorite urban sights and smells. (Houghton, $16 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-618-30899-7; Apr.)

The latest entry in the Way I Feel Books series, When I Miss You by Cornelia Maude Spelman, illus. by Kathy Parkinson, aims to help reassure children with separation anxiety. "When you go out, I miss you. I want to show you something, but I can't. I wish you were with me!" Parkinson's illustrations star a pudgy, apprehensive rodent who eventually learns, "When I miss you, I know you'll be back!" (Albert Whitman, $15.95 24p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-8075-8910-1; Apr.)

In a companion to their The Farewell Symphony by Anna Harwell Celenza, illus. by JoAnn Kitchel, the author focuses on the development of Beethoven's The Heroic Symphony. After a brief biographical background of the composer, Celenza describes his friendship with musician Ferdinand Ries (whose biography of Beethoven was a source for the book). Boldly colored illustrations with kinetic outlines contrast with vintage-looking pastel backgrounds. A CD recording of the piece performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is included. (Charlesbridge, $19.95 32p ages 5-10 ISBN 1-57091-509-1; Mar.)

After collecting the literature of Japan and Bali, author Kim So-un and artist Jeong Kyoung-Sim introduce a host of characters in Korean Children's Favorite Stories, including a wily old woman who outwits "The Bad Tiger" and, in "The Pumpkin Seeds," a pair of brothers—one proud, one humble—who get their just deserts. Smoky watercolors bring other creatures, such as demons and snakes, to life as well. (Tuttle, $16.95 96p ages 9-12 ISBN 0-8048-3591-8; Apr.)

Interactive Adventures

Unique interactive concepts enliven an array of new books. The Chameleon and the Dragonfly: A Pop-Up Book by Lorena Eliasen explains how Pepe, a chameleon, was given his color-shifting abilities. When Pepe comes across a tasty-looking dragonfly, the insect promises to grant the lizard one wish if Pepe will spare her life. A color wheel allows readers to witness the granting of the chameleon's wish; the dragonfly wings glitter, and 3-D pop-ups show it in flight. (Scholastic/Orchard, $16.95 12p all ages ISBN 0-439-52320-6; Apr.)

A Spin, Read & Play board book, with a spinner that shows through the sturdy die-cut pages, Your World: Start Here by Kevin Rechin helps children develop a sense of their place in the world with a different board game on each spread. Game pieces store away beneath the spinner, within a plastic container affixed to the inside back cover. The first game explores relationships in a fictional family tree; subsequent games explore community and the world. A final gatefold opens to reveal the games' instructions. (Innovative Kids, $14.99 10p ages 6-up ISBN 1-58476-217-9; Apr.)

Children can let their imaginations run wild with the cutout pieces that fit into each spread in Ahoy, Pirate Pete by Nick Sharratt, a companion to Once Upon a Time. The glossy, durable pages accommodate 30 punch-out shapes—a helicopter, a lobster and more—which children use to "fill in the blanks" of a tale starring the titular hero and One-eyed Wanda. (Candlewick, $8.99 14p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-7636-2197-8; Apr.)

All sealed up with Velcro in a toteable box, the Winnie the Pooh and Friends Let's Discover Animals Playtime Learning Box contains a number of activities, books and games to entertain and educate. From the Hundred-Acre Wood, these characters first created by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard explore sea creatures, insects and mammals in three workbooks filled with activities and pictures, as well as a board game, poster, trading cards, stickers and a short booklet by Cathy Hapka, "Winnie the Pooh Wonders About Animals." (Disney, $19.99 ages 3-6 ISBN 0-7868-0934-5; Apr.)

Two interactive Hear and There titles encourage children to learn about colors, animals and vehicles: Sounds on the Farm and Sounds on the Go by Gail Donovan, illus. by Laura Ovresat. In the first title, each right-hand page features a large barn door with a flap that conceals an animal. On the left is another flap that gives a clue ("People drink the milk I make. Who am I?"); a lift of the flap uncovers the answer and other facts about the beast. The second title features an urban setting with various forms of transportation and the noises they make. (Innovative Kids, $18.99 each 24p ages 2-5 ISBN 1-58476-221-7; -222-5; Apr.)

A quartet of faux-fur-covered board books form the Jungle Snuggles series by Shaheen Bilgrami, illus. by Patti Jennings, complete with head and paws on the covers and a liftable tail on the backs. In Jungle Snuggles: Zebra, the striped star enlists the help of his animal friends to find his lost mother. Tiger reveals the title character to be a scaredy-cat; as he wanders, he thinks every sound emanates from a monster, though each time he finds a friend instead. Other titles: Monkey and Lion. (Sterling/Pinwheel, $7.95 each 8p ages 2-4 ISBN 1-4027-1209-X; -1210-3; -1211-1; -1212-X; Apr.)

A die-cut watering can that doubles as a book teaches youngsters how plants grow from seeds in What's in the Garden? by Jo Lodge. The cover, shaped as a half cylinder with a plastic window, lets readers peek at the tiny creatures (a snail, ladybug, etc.) inside. As seeds are planted, watered and begin to grow, Butterfly asks its friends about each of these steps. A pop-up spread of flowers with Butterfly in their midst ends this uniquely packaged book. (S&S/Little Simon, $6.99 12p ages 1-4 ISBN 0-689-86733-6; Apr.)