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Editor's choices.

By Lisa Lane / June 6, 1986



In A Year of Birds, Ashley Wolff's first picture book, the reader watched Ellie, her family, and the birds surrounding their country house during the changing months. In Wolff's latest book, A Year of Beasts, the continuity and richness of nature are again explored, not only through Ellie's eyes this time, but also through her new brother's as well. The richly colored, hand-tinted linoleum-block prints bring warmth and strength to the story. (Dutton, $10.95, ages 3-6.) The continuity and fluidity of family and friends are also central to The Doorbell Rang, written and illustrated by Pat Hutchins. Ma has made 12 cookies, 6 for Sam and 6 for Victoria -- but ``no one makes cookies like Grandma.'' The doorbell rings and two friends are welcomed in to share the cookies; it rings again . . . and again . . . until there is only one cookie per child. To everyone's dismay, the doorbell rings once more, and the story is brought to a yummy conclusion. Hutchins's strongly patterned illustrations add to the zaniness of the story. (Greenwillow, $11.75, ages 4-8.)

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The squabbling/loving sisters Rosemary and Pearl have returned -- this time in the book Princess Pearl, written and illustrated by Nicki Weiss. Rosemary wanted nothing to do with Pearl; she even divided their bedroom in half with masking tape. But when Pearl's friend Janie begins telling Pearl she has to be the servant girl, Rosemary comes to the rescue. Weiss's soft pastel illustrations humorously portray the subtle line between sibling rivalry and sibling solidarity. (Greenwillow, $11.75, ages 5-8.)

It's Mine, written and illustrated by Leo Lionni, is also about learning to share. Three frogs -- Milton, Rupert, and Lydia -- are quibbling over who owns the pond. When a large rainstorm comes up, the three learn that the pond doesn't belong to any of them. Shimmering collage illustrations give the book a tropical feeling, and many children the world over will laugh at the antics of the three frogs. (Knopf, $11.95, ages 4-8.)

Originally published in Spain, Brush, by author Pere Calders and illustrator Carme Sol'e Vendrell, is a very unusual ``animal'' story. After Little Sala's puppy Turco eats Senora Sala's hat, the puppy is given away. Little Sala tries playing with his aunt's canary, a canvas ball, and an American-made top, but these can't replace his puppy. Finally he finds a very large brush -- ``one that is no longer in style'' -- and decides it will suffice as a dog. Subdued watercolor illustrations understate the sadness and humor of the story. (Kane/Miller, $9.95, ages 4-8.)

When Lucy's family moves to a new town, Lucy is lonely and worried about how she will meet new friends. She finds a small white dog that appears to be lost and decides that he will be her friend. Her parents, however, insist that she try to find its original owner, and Lucy is very reluctant to do this. Lost and Found, by Canadian writer Jean Little, is the author's first attempt to write for younger readers, and although the story is rather slow and predictable at first, the conclusion is touching and heartwarming. (Viking Kestrel, $9.95, ages 7-11.)

Jay Koots doesn't like new places, new people, or new experiences, either. But when his mother arranges a family vacation in Vermont with some friends of hers, he has to go, too. Yellow Blue Jay, written by Johanna Hurwitz, is the story of a boy who discovers that he does have the courage and ability to meet new people and do new things. Donald Carrick's black-and-white illustrations add a thoughtful, slightly melancholy feeling to the book. (Morrow, $10.25, ages 7-11.)

Anastasia Krupnik is back again in Anastasia Has the Questions, by Lois Lowry. The problem is she doesn't know all the answers to who, what, when, where, and -- especially -- why in every situation. With perseverance and exuberance, Anastasia does figure out the answers that are so pressing to children in junior high. Lowry's wit and sharp observations create an appealing comedy. (Houghton Mifflin, $12.95, ages 8-12.)

Fairy tales are not usually popular with older readers, but most will enjoy Howl's Moving Castle. Diana Wynne Jones's tongue-in-cheek fantasy is set in the land of Ingary, where spells, invisible cloaks, and seven-league boots are everyday things. Sophie Hatter, turned into an old woman by the Witch, moves into Wizard Howl's (moving) castle in hopes that he will be able to break the spell. But his doing this is dependent upon many other factors, none of which he or Sophie has control over. Jones has written an entrancing, magical fantasy. (Greenwillow, $10.25, ages 12 and up.)

Imaginary Lands, conceived and edited by Robin McKinley, is a collection of short-story fantasies written by leading writers for young adults. Although the concept of the book -- that the stories have a strong sense of place -- is good, the writing itself is uneven. In Peter Westall's ``The Big Rock Candy Mountain'' and James Blaylock's ``Paper Dragons,'' the setting is so prominent that the action suffers. Peter Dickinson's ``Flight,'' written as an epic tale, also suffers from a lack of momentum. But Jane Yolen's ``Evian Steel,'' P. C. Hodgell's ``Stranger Blood,'' Joan Vinge's ``Tam Lin,'' and Robin McKinley's ``The Stone Fey'' are very well written and good reads. (Greenwillow, $11.75, ages 12 and up.)