KIDS EXTRA BOOKS | EW.com

Books

All in the family: A magician dazzles his dad; mother animals put their babies to bed; a rodent and her relatives hang out in Ratopolis. AGES 6 MONTHS TO 2 YEARS MOONBEAR’S FRIEND Frank Asch (Simon & Schuster, $3.95) Moonbear is an amiable creature who fancies honey; his friend is a seed-loving bird in a bowler hat. With cheerful illustrations, Asch’s board book offers an upbeat first lesson in enjoying differences. B -Michele Landsberg

AGES 2 to 4 TIME FOR BED Mem Fox; illustrated by Jane Dyer (Harcourt Brace, $13.95) True to formula, each page of this picture book features a mother animal coaxing her offspring to sleep, along with a simple verse. Pretty, but less than memorable. C+ -ML

AGES 4 to 8 THE AMAZING FELIX Emily Arnold McCully (Putnam, $14.95) ”Practice! Practice! Practice!” exhorts Felix’s papa, a famous pianist who wants his children to follow in his footsteps. But Felix studies magic instead-and wins his father’s approval. McCully’s emotionally satisfying story is rich in action, atmosphere, and insight. A -ML

THE HAPPY HOCKY FAMILY Lane Smith (Viking, $13.99) With grinning stick figures, Smith takes a dig at the condescending primers of yore. Each of these ”happy family” stories ends with a mischievous twist. For kids who appreciate Lettermanesque malice, no one does it better than Smith. B+ -ML

AGES 8 to 12 SHIP David Macaulay (Houghton Mifflin, $19.95) Dramatic watercolors, workmanlike drawings, and a fascinating text tell two related stories: how underwater archaeologists found a shipwreck from the early 1500s, and how, nearly 500 years earlier, that same vessel was built and launched to sail the seas. A- -Leonard S. Marcus

ADVENTURES OF THE RAT FAMILY Jules Verne; illustrated by Felician Myrbach- Rheinfeld (Oxford, $14.95) An enchanted rat and her family, residents of Ratopolis, do brief, hilarious turns as mollusks, fish, birds, and, finally, human royalty. Fairy-tale mavens will lap up the many clever moments in this little-known fantasy by the author of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. B+ -LSM