True Companions

Readers rejoin favorite characters for new adventures this fall. It's back to Woodcock Pocket in Toot & Puddle: The New Friend by Holly Hobbie, eighth in the series. When Opal comes to visit, she brings a friend, Daphne, who excels at everything from turning "perfect" cartwheels to playing a Mozart concerto on the violin. But Daphne knows it. " 'I think your new friend is a bit of a prima donna,' Toot said. 'What's a prima donna?' Opal asked. 'Someone who thinks she is overly special... Like the biggest shooting star in the sky.' " (Little, Brown, $16.99 32p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-316-36636-6; Sept.)

The team behind Hooway for Wodney Wat introduce another memorable character's struggles in Hurty Feelings by Helen Lester, illus. by Lynn Munsinger. The not-so-ironically-named Fragility may be one tough hippo, but she can't take a compliment. When told she has sturdy legs, she cries, "You hurt my feeeeelings!... A piano has sturdy legs. So you think I have piano legs." Her dramatics cause her friends to snub her, until an encounter with a bullying elephant helps her realize her overreactions. (Houghton/Lorraine, $16 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-618-41082-1; Sept.)

Someone has been running the heroine's pony ragged at night in Clever Beatrice and the Best Little Pony by Margaret Willey, illus. by Heather Solomon. So she consults Monsieur Le Pain (his shingle reads "Fresh Bread & All Things Not Easily Explained"), who blames it on a lutin (a "little bearded [man]... from the old country") and the duo sets out to outwit it. (S&S/Atheneum, $16.95 40p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-689-85339-4; Sept.)

The diapered furry hero and his human mother are back to explain Why Epossumondas Has No Hair on His Tail by Colleen Salley, illus. by Janet Stevens. Here Mama tells a story about Epossumondas's great-great-grandpa, Papapossum, who gobbled persimmons from Bear's tree—and barely escaped the resulting ursine wrath. Gaudily dressed characters with cheery Southern turns of phrase imbue this sequel with charm equal to the first book. (Harcourt, $16 40p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-15-204935-5; Sept.)

Mother-and-son team Audrey and Bruce Wood (Alphabet Adventury) turn from ABC to 1, 2, 3 as they introduce Ten Little Fish, a knee-bouncing, countdown. One by one, the fish become diverted: "Five Little Fish, swimming by the shore./ One grabs a snack, and now there are..." When only one remains, he meets his soulmate, and they birth a new school of 10 fish. Bruce Wood's cheeky, 3-D illustrations owe a debt to Finding Nemo as he constructs an inviting undersea landscape. (Scholastic/Blue Sky, $15.95 40p ages 3-up ISBN 0-439-63569-1; Sept.)

Ilse Plume, who was awarded a Caldecott Honor for her interpretation of The Bremen Town Musicians, gives tender, rustic life to the song lyrics for The Farmer in the Dell. Pennsylvania Dutch motifs and influences infuse her colored-pencil illustrations as the farmer takes a wife, who takes a child, who takes a nurse and so on. Songsheets serve as endpapers, bordered with tiny hearts, flowers and birds, which also appear on the family's farm buildings and furniture. (Godine, $17.95 28p ages 4-8 ISBN 1-56792-270-8; Sept.)

Todd Parr's The Peace Book is a timely explanation of the term for young readers living in a sometimes uneasy world. In the neon-hued, cartoon landscape, peace can be anything from "keeping the water blue for all the fish" to "wearing different clothes" (the picture shows two girls, one in funky bellbottoms, the other in a traditional burqa) to "having enough pizza in the world for everyone." (Little, Brown/Tingley, $15.99 32p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-316-83531-5; Sept.)

All Aboard!

Favorite characters and titles are now available in board book editions. Dinos delight in acting like toddlers in original board books starring the prehistoric heroes first introduced in How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen, illus. by Mark Teague. Just right for smallest hands, How DoDinosaursCount to Ten? encourages youngsters to practice their numbers from a tyrannosaurus rex clutching his "one tattered teddy bear" to an apatosaurus reading 10 books (Teague subtly labels each terrible lizard somewhere in the drawing). The scaly stars set a good example (sort of) in How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms? as a velociraptor slides pink pajamas behind the bathroom door, and an airborne tropeognathus drops its clothes into a hamper. (Scholastic/Blue Sky, $6.99 each 12p ages 2-up ISBN 0-439-64949-8; ISBN 0-439-64950-1; Sept.)

A sturdy format gives classic Tomie dePaola nursery rhymes and bedtime stories staying power. Tomie's Three Bears and Other Tales, adapted from Tomie dePaola's Favorite Nursery Tales, contains retellings aimed at youngest fans of the titular story as well as "The Little Red Hen" and "The Three Little Pigs." Fans may recognize the signature artwork in Tomie's Baa, Baa, Black Sheep and Other Rhymes, which features "Jack and Jill," "Little Miss Muffet" and "Hey, Diddle Diddle" along with the title rhyme. (Putnam, $6.99 each 32p ages 1-up ISBN 0-399-24327-5; ISBN 0-399-24326-7; Aug.)

Jez Alborough's It's the Bear! returns in a board-book format; PW called this tale of shared human-ursine fright "just scary enough for preschoolers, who will love the pie-in-the-sky ending in which both the bear and the boy's mother get their just deserts." (Candlewick, $6.99 30p ages 1-3 ISBN 0-7636-2316-4; Aug.)

With its rounded corners and its cast of emotive infants and loving, diverse parents, Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, illus. by Marla Frazee, will quickly become a nursery staple. PW called it "a charming paean to the adoration (and accessories) that families lavish on their offspring." (Harcourt/Red Wagon, $6.95 30p ages 6 mos.-3 yrs. ISBN 0-15-205315-8; Sept.)

A pair of bedtime books wind up the list. PW praised Schaefer's "wonderfully evocative word choices" as well as Cabban's "plump, pert, but never cloying" forest creatures in Down in the Woods at Sleepytime by Carole Lexa Schaefer, illus. by Vanessa Cabban. (Candlewick, $6.99 24p ages 1-3 ISBN 0-7636-2566-3; Aug.)

PW called Dan Yaccarino's Good Night, Mr. Night "a calming bedtime tale, whose quiet narration and undulating illustrations have an almost hypnotic quality." (Harcourt/Red Wagon, $6.95 26p ages 6 mos.-3 yrs. ISBN 0-15-205351-4; Sept.)

Welcome Back!

Classic titles return in time for the gift-giving season. For a new generation of readers, Eleanor Estes's long-treasured title, The Hundred Dresses (1944), illus. by Louis Slobodkin, appears in its 60th anniversary finery with newly "restored color" in the artwork. Wanda faces mockery at school, both because of her "funny" last name (Petron-ski) and her claims that she has 100 dresses at home even though she wears the same one to school each day. (Harcourt, $16 96p ages 6-10 ISBN 0-15-205170-8; paper $6 ISBN 0-15-205260-7; Sept.)

Originally published as part of Four Stories for Four Seasons (1977), Four Friends in Autumn by Tomie dePaola follows Mistress Pig as she invites her friends, Mister Frog, Missy Cat and Master Dog, over for a fancy dinner to celebrate the lovely fall weather. But will her victuals actually make it to the table? (S&S, $14.95 32p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-689-85980-5; Sept.)

Betsy Lewin's Animal Snackers returns with cheerful new watercolors that serve up the rhymes from the 1980 edition as a delectable new entrée. The volume covers everything from the anteater ("His snout is like a hose./ He just sucks ants up his nose") to symbiotic tickbirds ("The rhino tolerates these guests/ because they rid him of his pests"). Even picky readers will likely return for seconds. (Holt, $15.95 32p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-8050-6748-5; Sept.)

On a quest from his master to retrieve a vial of basilisk blood, Nickon ends up running errands for a host of magical entities in a reissue of The Porcelain Cat (1987) by Michael Patrick Hearn. In new artwork, Leo and Diane Dillon create an eerie landscape of ethereal trees, hidden cats and faces in the moon—all trimmed in Art Nouveau—inspired gold borders. Unfortunately, at times a fuzziness overtakes the quality of the reproduction of the paintings, but overall, the Dillons' artwork is as haunting as ever. (ibooks/Milk & Cookies, $16.95 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-689-03592-6; Sept.)