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Books for Kids

April 14, 2002|Reviews are provided to Book Review by Publishers Weekly, where they first appeared. Copyright 2002, Publishers Weekly.

CAN YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?

Picture Puzzles to Search and Solve

By Walter Wick

Scholastic/Cartwheel:

38 pp., $13.95

Walter Wick ("Walter Wick's Optical Tricks" and the "I Spy" series) unleashes his boundless imagination to devise a dozen playful picture puzzles, each with a distinct theme. The large-scale photographs feature a carefully choreographed assortment of contemporary and vintage toys and other kid-pleasing paraphernalia. Alongside the images, deceptively simple verse instructs youngsters to spot specific items. The author cleverly tweaks the game at the end of each rhyme, inviting readers (sometimes rather cryptically) to enter a puzzle within a puzzle: They must either follow a maze, match two sets of objects, find differences in seemingly similar images or spot an optical illusion. Several of Wick's graphic compositions stand out as particularly novel: one photo set in a wood shop reveals freshly carved animal figures, sprinkled with wood shavings; another assembles hundreds of miniature animals, beads and other objects used in making play jewelry, all of them translucent and sparkling against a white background. Even sharp-eyed readers will find some of Wick's puzzles quite challenging to complete. These pages are nearly guaranteed to keep kids happily occupied for hours and coming back for return visits. (All ages)

*

ONCE UPON A FARM

By Marie Bradby

Illustrated by Ted Rand

Scholastic/Orchard: 32 pp., $16.95

With the gentle cadence befitting a simpler time, Marie Bradby ("More Than Anything Else") harvests a bounty of bucolic imagery for this poetic look at a family farm. A boy relates the challenges, never-ending work and sweet rewards that come with working the land. On each spread, minimalist stanzas ("A plow/some grain/pray for rain./A sow/a shed/may all be fed") precede a more personal statement ("Mama cooks the corn cakes,/Daddy says the prayer./Sorghum, ham, and jelly--it's been a good year"). By book's end, the boy sadly shares the information that encroaching suburban sprawl and development mean the end of his farm home and way of life. Throughout, Ted Rand ("Sailing Home") alternates between sunny full-page watercolor portraits showing the boy and his family, whom he depicts as African Americans, and smaller airy vignettes providing a good sense of the comfortable rhythms of the proceedings. His parting illustration of a lone bulldozer razing tall trees brings home Brady's message in a quietly dramatic style. (Ages 4-7)

*

SHADOWS

By April Pulley Sayre

Illustrated by Harvey Stevenson

Henry Holt: 32 pp., $16.95

From the beach to the ball field and back again, a boy and girl search for shadows on a sunny summer day in April Pulley Sayre's ("The Hungry Hummingbird") warm-hearted ode to friendship and the simple pleasures of the season: "Searching for shadows/we run, hop!/stare ... /at lots of shadows / here / and / there." Harvey Stevenson's ("As the Crow Flies") thickly applied acrylics, steeped in the glow of amber light, picture the friends--one dark-skinned, one light--as they push their bicycles aside and run toward the ocean. The rhythms emulate the narrator's observations, from the darting motions in nature ("Dragonfly shadows zip and pop./Running horse shadows never stop") to the humor to be found at the ball field ("A man keeps a shadow under his hat"), while the artwork zeros in on the winged dragonfly and pulls back to create depth on the baseball diamond. In a roundly satisfying conclusion, the end of the day finds the friends at rest under a tree, making twin shadows with their toe-touching feet: "I think I like these shadows best." (Ages 3-7)

*

DAUGHTER OF VENICE

By Donna Jo Napoli

Random/Wendy Lamb:

276 pp., $16.95

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