Love and Kisses

A pair of books just right for a special someone arrive in time for Valentine's Day. Consider Love: Its Moods and Many Ways by Sandra Boynton, first published in 2002, appears here in a square, paper-over-board mini-edition. The hand-size volume enumerates love in its many manifestations. One standout spread: "Love that is clever," depicting a fox climbing a ladder to gather grapes for his heartthrob, appears opposite, "Love that is foolish," for which a hippo highdives into a tiered chocolate cake. (Little Simon, $7.99 32p all ages ISBN 0-689-87814-1; Jan.)

Fans of the licensed character, Happy Bunny, here making its book debut, will welcome the irreverent It's Happy Bunny Love Bites by Jim Benton. The long-eared fellow offers such advice as "Show that cutey-patootey your smart and sensitive side" while a cartoon with thought balloon shows the suitor attempting to seduce with the lines, "Roses are red./ Violets are blue./ Your butt's funny looking,/ but I think you'll do." Who could resist? (Scholastic, $7.99 72p ages 12-up ISBN 0-439-69345-4; Jan.)

Love Eloise—style

A handful of titles inform Eloise fans of what she absolutely love love loves. Just in time for Valentine's Day, Love & Kisses, Eloise, based on Kay Thompson's character and on Hilary Knight's artwork, tells readers how the famous Plaza-dweller prepares: by making cards, getting "a few extra boxes [of chocolate] for ourselves," and making deliveries by tricycle in the hotel. (S&S/Little Simon, $3.99 paper 24p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-689-87156-2; Jan.)

In a similar vein, the six-year-old espouses her favorite things in Eloise's What I Absolutely Love Love Love, including dress-up, room service and, of course, "Nanny/ Emily/ Weenie and Skipperdee/ New York/ Paris/ Moscow/ and The Plaza Hotel." (S&S, $9.95 32p all ages ISBN 0-689-84965-6; Jan.)

Youngest fans can use 50 reusable stickers to costume the sassy heroine in a formidable wardrobe against backdrops at the beach, in the jungle and on the stage, in Eloise Dresses Up. (S&S/Little Simon, $6.99 paper 12p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-689-87455-3; Jan.)

The star wreaks havoc throughout the hotel in Here Comes Eloise! A Lift-the-Flap Book. On each spread, a perfectly serene scene transforms into chaos with a lift of a flap, including a runaway luggage cart in the lobby, and a mouse sighting in the elevator. (S&S/Little Simon, $6.99 paper 16p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-689-87154-6; Jan.)

And for slightly older fans, two Ready-to-Read titles introduce readers to the heroine's tutor in Eloise Has a Lesson ("Philip says, 'What is five plus six?' I say, 'You do not know?' "); and in Eloise Breaks Some Eggs, she cooks up a mess at her cooking lesson in the Plaza's kitchen. (S&S/Aladdin, $3.99 paper each 32p ages 4-6 ISBN 0-689-87367-0; 0-689-87368-9; Jan.)

Perhaps to ward off such mishaps, The Plaza Hotel itself announces The Golden Rules of Etiquette at The Plaza by Tom Civitano, Lyudmila Bloch and Rosemary Carroll. Offering a brief history and gentle lessons in manners by way of multiple-choice questions, this thoughtful volume covers everything from how to behave in public areas to how to dine properly, all the while delectably dropping names as casually as can be (e.g., John Lennon often dined in The Oyster Bar, which opened in 1969). Delicate pen-and-ink and watercolor wash illustrations of elegantly dressed guests and impeccably appointed rooms provide attractive accompaniment. (Fifth Avenue Press [212-843-9316], $16.95 48p ages 6-16 ISBN 0-9755390-0-0; Dec.)

Interactive Extravaganza

For smallest hands, book-based entertainment abounds. Fans of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom can shake a tiny maraca to the beat of "A told B and B told C, 'l'll meet you at the top of the coconut tree" with the Chicka Chicka ABC Board Book & Rattle by Bill Martin Jr., illus. by Lois Ehlert. (S&S/Little Simon, $9.99 16p ages 1-4 ISBN 0-689-87820-6; Jan.)

The cloth book Sweet, Sweet Baby!, illus. by Javaka Steptoe, shows a line of reassuring text on each cloth page and ends with a mylar mirror in which babies can see themselves, bordered with "petals" that squeak, crinkle and rattle. (Scholastic/Cartwheel, $12.95 4p ISBN 0-439-65086-0; Jan.)

Sure to elicit giggles, the pages of the spiral-bound Fish Go Woof! by Miranda Maxwell-Hyslop divide into three sections, allowing readers to put a fish tail on a bee's body with a dog's head. But when the sections are properly aligned, youngsters uncover the truth (e.g., "Bees go buzz"). (Hodder [Trafalgar Sq., dist.], $17.95 36p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-340-87338-8; paper $9.99 ISBN 0-340-87339-6; Jan.)

Die-cut board book pages add to the fun as readers watch an owlet make his way back to Mrs. Owl in Owen's Way Home by Ruth Koeppel, illus. by Trace Moroney. Lush full-spread paintings lead Owen (and readers) from one promising "hole" to the next (a window, a birdhouse, a tire) until he winds up at his own tree. (Readers Digest, $10.99 14p ages 3-8 ISBN 0-7944-0549-5; Feb.)

A fuzzy, irresistible-looking hero is the main attraction in Bless This Mouse: A Soft-to-Touch Book by Dianna Hutts Aston, illus. by John Butler. With a text reminiscent of "All Creatures, Great and Small" ("Bless all creatures North and South./ Bless trees,/ and trunks,/ and roots,/ and boughs"), this velvety square volume leads readers through flower and fauna as mouse prepares to hunker down for the winter. (Handprint [Chronicle, dist.], $14.95 24p ages 2-up ISBN 1-59354-050-7; Dec.)

A fetching gray donkey sporting a striped red shirt stars in a pair of adventures by Harriet Ziefert, illus. by Emily Bolam. Buzzy's Birthday: A Lift-the-Flap Story shows the fellow helping his mother put up decorations and icing his cake, transforming his home into a party scene. Rhyming couplets see Buzzy through his nighttime preparations (bath, story, hug and kiss) in Buzzy's Big Bedtime Book. (Blue Apple [Chronicle, dist.], $9.95 each 40p ages 2-6 ISBN 1-59354-062-0; 1-59354-059-0; Dec.)

Snow Day Fun

On cold days, what could be better than a warm meal? Let's Cook! A Press-Out-and-Play Book by Robert Crowther offers recipes even youngest chefs can handle. Beginning with a menu that folds out (and serves as a Table of Contents), the author lists "Sandwiches on Toast or a Bagel," for instance, picturing different options even fussy eaters will find appetizing (e.g., "Bacon, lettuce, and tomato"). Youngsters don't even have to touch the real thing; they can instead simply pop the piece of bread off a sturdy cardboard page and tuck it into the toaster, opposite. (Candlewick, $10.99 10p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-7636-2266-4; Dec.)

For those ready to don an apron, the spiral-bound The International Cookbook for Kids by Matthew Locricchio, photos by Jack McConnell, starts off with safety tips for the kitchen, then dives right into soups such as "Sopa de Tortilla" followed by Salade Niçoise and classics like roast chicken and spaghetti and meatballs, topped off with an array of desserts. (Cavendish, $18.95 176p ages 12-up ISBN 0-7614-5185-4; Dec.)

And for who would rather forego the chef's hat for needle and thread, Kids' Embroider: Projects for Kids of All Ages by Kristin Nicholas, photos by John Gruen, describes the tools of the trade and basics like threading a needle, then moves on to needlepoint, cross-stitch and even "fancy stitches." Step-by-step diagrams pave the way to finished projects, pictured in crisp photographs. (Stewart Tabori & Chang, $19.95 128p all ages ISBN 1-58479-366-X; Dec.)