The following books are a few of the brightest from the hundreds of new children's titles published this fall: Color Farm, by Lois Ehlert (J. B. Lippincott, $12.95, ages 1 to 5). Pages of cutout shapes are teamed with Ehlert's signature electric colors to create a menagerie of familiar barnyard animals. A vivid conceptual treat for the very young.
Julius, the Baby of the World, by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow, $12.95, ages 4 and up). Lilly is decidedly underwhelmed by the arrival of a new baby in the household, until she hears him criticized by Cousin Garland. Sibling rivalry has never been more deftly or more hilariously handled.
A Day With Wilbur Robinson, by William Joyce (Harper & Row, $13.89, ages 2 to 7). Joyce unleashes his wacky sense of humor once again in this tale of a most eccentric family. A visit to the Robinsons means an encounter with such characters as Uncle Laszlo and his antigravity device, Aunt Billie and her life-size train set, Carl the robot, and Grandfather and his ever-errant false teeth, to name just a few. Joyce's witty illustrations have a 1940s flavor, and, fortunately for his many fans, his wild imagination knows no limits.
Heinz Janisch's The Merry Pranks of Till Eulenspiegel, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger, translated by Anthea Bell (Picture Book Studio, $15.95, ages 5 and up). Well-known and loved by generations of European children, Prankster Till's escapades are brought across the Atlantic and illumined in vivid ink-and-wash illustrations by a Hans Christian Andersen medalist.
The Buck Stops Here, by Alice Provensen (Harper & Row, $17.95, all ages). In a unique approach to United States history, Provensen presents all 41 US presidents in pictures and jingles (``Teddy Roosevelt, Twenty-six, / Whisper softly, wave big sticks; Herbert Hoover, Thirty-one, / Is so depressed by what's begun!''). Her illustrations are crammed with historical highlights, providing a kind of visual timeline that makes it easy to remember major events and significant historical figures. It's an intriguing concept, admirably executed.
Woodsong, by Gary Paulsen (Bradbury Press, $12.95, ages 12 and up). Part Farley Mowat, part Jack London, Paulsen is one of the reigning kings of the outdoor adventure tale. In this gripping autobiographical account of his own experiences in training (and being trained by) his sled dogs in the Minnesota wilderness he is at top form. The book winds up with Paulsen's ordeal in the grueling Iditarod sled-dog race across Alaska, and as in the rest of the book, nature in all its harshness and beauty is chronicled through his trademark lean, staccato prose.
A Gathering of Flowers: Stories About Being Young in America, edited by Joyce Carol Thomas (Harper & Row, $14.95, ages 12 and up). This collection of short stories reflects the growing focus on multicultural and multiethnic literature. A fine group of writers from a variety of backgrounds - Latino, African-American, Native American, Asian-American, to name a few - offer tales of what it's like to be young in the richly diverse United States.