EW Staff
October 01, 1993 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Moving right along: A girl takes to her scooter, a grandfather hits the high seas, and a frog shakes its bones. AGES 6 MONTHS TO 2 YEARS FAST CAR; HENS SAY CLUCK; RED BUS; STRIPED ZEBRA Hannah Giffard (Tambourine, $3.95 each) Giffard’s board-book quartet introduces very young children to basic size, shape, color, and pattern concepts as well as a few animals and vehicles. The small, square watercolors are decorative but emotionally flat. And a few may confuse: That ”empty wheelbarrow” is empty all right, but the ”fast car” appears stalled. B -Leonard S. Marcus

AGES 2 to 4 AUTUMN Fiona Pragoff (Aladdin, $5.95) Simple text and sumptuous photographs of pumpkins, falling leaves, and kids’ cozy sweaters extol the beauty of the season. Yes, it’s a pretty book. Yes, it’s an inoffensive book. Yes, glossy nonfiction photo books like this are quickly becoming a toddler trend. But Autumn lacks the creative spark to fire a child’s imagination. C+ -Michele Landsberg

HOP JUMP Ellen Stoll Walsh (Harcourt Brace, $13.95) Bored with the standard jumping routine, a lone frog decides she’s just gotta dance-and pretty soon, all the frogs who once teased her want in on the fun. The bright collages help the slender fable leap off the page, but the moralistic ending brings it back to earth with a thud. B -LSM

AGES 4 to 8 GRANDFATHER’S JOURNEY Allen Say (Houghton Mifflin, $16.95) In his best picture book yet, Say tells the bittersweet tale of his Japanese grandfather’s immigration to the United States as a young man and his wistful return, in old age, to the land of his birth. Both the author’s graceful narrative and his incisive, dreamlike watercolors are emotionally riveting. A -LSM

THE STORY OF LIGHTNING AND THUNDER Ashley Bryan (Atheneum, $14.95) Ma Sheep Thunder and her unruly Son Ram Lightning are the captivating heroes of this African folktale. They help bring rain to their people until Son Ram gets so bold that the King exiles Ma and Son to the land of the clouds. Bryan tells the story with a lovely rhyming lilt; his lively paintings are jewel-toned. A- -ML

AGES 8 TO 12 SCOOTER Vera B. Williams (Greenwillow, $15) Young Elana, the heroine of this novel, is an endlessly inquisitive, self-aware, have-scooter-will-travel kind of kid. Her wonderfully nuanced first-person narrative is accompanied by doodles and handwritten notes that give the book a quirky, homemade feel. A -LSM

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