All Aboard!

Little fingers will want to explore new and reissued board titles. The delicious Now I Eat My ABC's by Pam Abrams, illus. by Bruce Wolf, tempts youngsters to learn the alphabet with two letters per page, each constructed from edibles that begin with the appropriate letter. Entrées—er, entries—are served up for young gourmets ("U is for Udon noodles") and picky eaters alike ("F is for French fries"), and all photographs appear against pastel backgrounds, cleanly organized in rectangular shapes with rounded corners. (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $9.95 16p ages 6 mos.-3 yrs. ISBN 0-439-64942-0; Sept.)

Tedd Arnold's 1987 cautionary tale, No Jumping on the Bed! returns as a board book. When Walter refuses to heed his father's titular warning, he and his bed end up crashing "down and down" through neighbors' apartments. PW noted, "textual puns and subtle visual jokes make this a bedtime story worthy of repeated readings"—and Arnold fans will enjoy seeing this artist's beginnings, in a very different visual style. (Dial, $6.99 30p ages 1-up ISBN 0-8037-3044-6; Sept.)

Peggy Rathmann's Good Night, Gorilla returns as a hefty, oversize board book. Of this tale of a sneaky simian who escapes from the zoo, PW said, "Universally understandable subject matter and a narrative conveyed almost entirely through pictures mark this as an ideal title for beginners." (Putnam, $11.99 34p ages 6 mos.-up ISBN 0-399-24260-0; Sept.)

In its new form, Marjorie Newman's Mole and the Baby Bird, illus. by Patrick Benson, a gentle story of a mole and the bird he cares for, is just right for littlest hands. PW wrote, "With a quietly resonating tone, Newman tackles heart-tugging issues—the responsibilities of pet care, the pain of loss, respect for the natural world—that many parents will find familiar." (Bloomsbury, $6.95 32p ages 2-6 ISBN 1-58234-914-2; Sept.)

Two interactive titles by Mark Schulman use pull-tabs to teach learning concepts: Foxy Fox acts as a color primer (each page asks a question, such as, "Which tree for Bee?," and the pull of a tab changes a "yellow tree" to green); Big Cat does the same for sizes. (Tiger Tales, $6.95 each 8p ages 2-4 ISBN 1-58925-738-3; 1-58925-737-5; Sept.)

Four oversize board titles should appeal to vehicularly-minded kids on the go-go. Go, Go Trucks!, illus. by Simon Hart offers bold, none-too-realistic portraits of highway haulers from the tiny mail truck to the mighty "eighteen wheeler." Taking to the skies, seas and streets are Go, Go Planes!, Go, Go Boats! and Go, Go Cars!(PSS, $5.99 each 12p ages 3-5 Trucks ISBN 0-8431-0905-X; Planes 0-8431-1008-2; Boats 0-8431-1009-0; Cars 0-8431-1155-0; Sept.)

Two photographic board books show baby animals at their most cuddly. Farm Babies pairs foals, kids (the furry kind, that is) and piglets with their respective noises. The full-bleed photos face solid color pages that contrast with brief sentences in bold colored type. Animal Babies shows giraffes, deer and other offspring against one-word descriptions of their actions (such as "snuggle" or "kiss"). (Sterling, $4.95 each 14p ages 1-3 ISBN 1-4027-1714-8; 1-4027-1717-2; Sept.)

Two classic Golden Books return as Golden Sturdy Books—tall board books for little fingers. The Up and Down Book by Mary Blair was originally published in 1964 and features several bright and cheerful children demonstrating the differences between up and down ("My umbrella goes up when the rain comes down"). The Rooster Struts by Richard Scarry (1963) illustrates the gaits of numerous animals including a wiggling worm, soaring eagle and the sloth that "hardly moves at all." (Random/Golden, $5.99 each 24p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-375-83005-7; 0-375-83006-5; Aug.)

Nature-Lovers Unite

Several titles delve into an exploration of the environment. A family tree metaphor serves as the basis of Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth by Rochelle Strauss, illus. by Margot Thompson, which presents the entirety of life on Earth, incorporating branches devoted to Monera (bacteria), Fungi and more. Strauss explains the traits of the different divisions, dissects them further (e.g., animals to vertebrates to amphibians to frogs, salamanders, etc.) and offers unique facts about particular species. Thompson's "crackled" illustrations depict species as the leaves on the Tree of Life. (Kids Can, $16.95 40p ages 8-up ISBN 1-55337-669-2; Sept.)

Two titles extend the paper-over-board Kids' FAQs series: Everything Dolphin: What Kids Really Want to Know About Dolphins by Marty Crisp and Everything Reptile by Cherie Winner. Like the previous titles, children pose the questions (such as "How are dolphins different from porpoises?" and "Who is the most famous dolphin?") and brief paragraphs paired with close-up color photographs serve as answers. (NorthWord, $10.95 each 64p ages 8-11 ISBN1-55971-042-X; 1-55971-146-9; paper $7.95 each 1-55971-049-7; 1-55971-164-7; Sept.)

Mrs. Page's class from Miss Alaineus: A VocabularyDisaster turns to science in The Incredible Water Show by Debra Frasier. The fifth-graders perform onstage in skits that discuss properties of water and the water cycle. Addressing readers directly, two students assume the roles of a circus-like master of ceremonies, while their peers chime in with comments of varying relevance and levels of hyperbole. (Harcourt, $146 40p ages 3-up ISBN 0-15-216287-9; Sept.)

Tales Across Time

From folklore to poems and nursery rhymes, these diverse collections offer readers a host of traditional fare. Vintage illustrations add royal magic to Princess Stories: A Classic Illustrated Edition, compiled by Cooper Edens. The eight standards include "Cinderella," "The Princess and the Pea" and "Sleeping Beauty." As with Edens's other compilations, the illustrations here (taken from 19th- and 20th-century sources) hail from the best of vintage paintings and also incorporate fairy-tale-familiar pen-and-inks in a Germanic style. (Chronicle, $19.95 136p all ages ISBN 0-8118-4032-8; Sept.)

Selections from three earlier books unite in The Helen Oxenbury Nursery Collection by Oxenbury. With poems, nursery rhymes and stories from Tiny Tim—Verses for Children; Cakes and Custard: The Helen Oxenbury Nursery Rhyme Book and The Helen Oxenbury Nursery Story Book, readers can catch up on favorites such as "Sing a Song of Sixpence" and "The Three Billy Goats Gruff," plus make new acquaintances, such as "Desperate Dan." (Knopf, $19.95 96p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-375-82992-X; Oct.)

The clever collection Riddledy Piggledy: A Book of Rhymes and Riddles by Tony Mitton, illus. by Paddy Mounter, poses poetic riddles that have Mother Goose rhymes as answers. "Chop, Chop, Chop" describes "Three tiny pairs of dark glasses/ (dropped)./ Three little gray tails/ (cropped)." The answer (here, "Three Blind Mice") appears on the next page as the rhyme in full. Mounter's cheerful cartoons offer clues as well. (Random/Fickling, $16.95 48p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-385-75024-2; Sept.)

Meilo So's airy watercolors make an ideal pairing for a quartet of fantastical tales of elephants, fairies and other creatures, Fairy Tales by E.E. Cummings. "The Elephant and the Butterfly" and "The House That Ate Mosquito Pie," both stories of love between unexpected parties, benefit from So's compositions, which match Cummings's tales for warmth and optimism. (Norton, $17.95 64p ISBN 0-87140-658-6; Sept.)

Grandfather Mountain: Stories of Gods and Heroes from Many Cultures by Burleigh Mutén, illus. by Siân Bailey, collects tales of spirituality from around the world. The titular story, from the Seneca Indians of North America, tells of Crow, a boy whom Grandfather Mountain deems the world's first storyteller, while "The Sons of Rangi and Papa-tu-a-nuku" is a bittersweet creation myth from the Maori in New Zealand. Bailey's illustrations include a meticulously detailed visual border whose narrative parallels the text. (Barefoot, $19.99 80p ages 8-up ISBN 1-84148-789-9; Sept.)

Equine epics are explored in Magic Hoofbeats: Horse Tales from Many Lands by Josepha Sherman, illus. by Linda Wingerter. Historical details about different breeds of horses precede each tale, which come from lands as diverse as India, the Basque region of Spain, Albania and others. Wingerter's thick, swirling brushstrokes and velvety shades add drama to the proceedings; she portrays the horses in majestic scenes, tailored to each geographic region. A horse lover's delight. (Barefoot, $19.99 80p ages 8-up ISBN 1-84148-091-6; Sept.)

Dance Recital

Future ballerinas may jeté for joy over these dance titles. Abigail's Ballet Class by Annabelle James, illus. by Shirley Beckes, features a seven-inch Abigail ballerina doll in a flip out "studio" attached to the back of a board book, as in Abigail's Bedtime. In the story, the heroine's emotions leap from excitement to trepidation to contentment as class progresses. The studio features a mirrored wall and practice barre. (Straight Edge [718-643-2794], $12.49 10p ages 3-5 ISBN 1-883043-54-9; Aug.)

A holiday favorite comes to life on a miniature stage in The Nutcracker Ballet Theatre by Jean Mahoney, illus. by Viola Ann Seddon, packaged with an audio CD. The story's summary is contained in an elegant box, from which the stage floor folds out, and interchangeable backdrops help readers imagine the drama; glossy paper figures are mounted to plastic tubes for easy pirouettes. The enclosed book also gives background information on ballet and suggests recipe and ornament ideas. (Candlewick, $22.99 12p ages 5-up ISBN 0-7636-2453-5; Oct.)

Readers can dance through the pages of The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories by Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, illus. by Rebecca Guay. The compendium contains seven stories from across the centuries and continents (including "Swan Lake," "The Nutcracker," "The Sleeping Beauty" and "Daphnis and Chloe"), prefaced by an introduction that discusses the dancers and composers who brought each ballet to life. Guay's (Goddesses: A World of Myth and Magic) paintings show fairies, princes and others in graceful and expressive poses. (Barefoot, $19.99 96p ages 8-up ISBN 1-84148-229-3; Sept.)