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THE CAKE THAT MACK ATE by Rose Robart; illustrated by Maryann Kovalski (Atlantic Monthly: $9.95; 24 pp.; ages 2-8).

April 26, 1987|KRISTIANA GREGORY

If you want to share a hearty laugh with your preschooler, get your lap ready. "The Cake That Mack Ate" is one of those rare picture books an adult won't mind reading 37 times in one week.

A takeoff on "This Is the House That Jack Built," Robart tells kids what all goes into a birthday cake. "These are the candles/ That lit up the cake,/ That was made by the woman,/ Who married the farmer,/ Who planted the seed,/ That grew into corn,/ That fed the hen,/ That laid the egg,/ That went into the cake that Mack ate."

The verse accumulates until it crescendos into a surprise ending that makes each subsequent reading all the more funny. You can start slowly and as it builds, read the repetitions faster and faster. It's short enough to avoid monotony, long enough for rhythm to grow.

In addition, the full-color drawings help children anticipate the story and what appears will be a party. The cottage is homey with all the friendly clutter that just smells of something scrumptious baking in the oven. When Mack shows up with ideas of his own, well, you'll see. It has the prime ingredient for an early book: fun.

THE WAY OF THE GRIZZLY by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent; photographs by William Munoz (Clarion: $12.95; 65 pp.; ages 6-12). Dozens of black-and-white photos show grizzly bears catching salmon, playing with and nursing their young. More important though, the author explains how grizzlies have become an endangered species and what is being done to save them from extinction. This is an excellent choice for a child's wildlife library.

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