Shrek creator William Steig collaborates with illustrator Harry Bliss on an amusing, thoughtful book that explores one of life's most penetrating queries. What would you rather be -- a stick or a stone? A snake or a crocodile? A rabbit magician asks these shape-shifting questions while conjuring up some startling surprises.
Sitting in front of a black top hat, a boy and girl gaze in wonderment while a wand-waving hare whips up objects, people, animals, and types of weather -- all exhibits for his pressing inquiry. Other questions include whether you'd choose to be a boy or a girl, a mouse or an elephant, a moon or a sun; and at the end, the kids (who only speak a few times) are asked to think about whether they'd prefer being alone or together.
With cartoonlike illustrations set against a stark white background, Steig and Bliss's book is sure to get kids' wheels turning. Steig's comparison game is thought-provoking and inspired, while Bliss's artwork offers a blissful dose of imagination with a hint of surrealism. An excellent springboard for other imaginative games, Which Would You Rather Be? offers a fun respite from bad-weather weekends, lackluster storytimes, or ho-hum car trips. (Matt Warner)