Once won't be enough for 'Twice'

Children will want to hear " Once Upon a Twice" by Denise Doyan and illustrated by Barry Moser (Random House, ages 4-7, $16.99) again and again. For some it will be because they loved it; for others because it didn't make sense the first time.

The mice are "scoutaprowl" under a dangerous full moon. Predators lurk everywhere, but the group scurries on until "one mousling jams the middle!" Worst of all, he has put everyone in danger to smell a rose.

Denise Doyan's story is reminiscent of Jabberwocky. Her nonsense words are usually formed by blending sounds and meanings from two or more terms. Her main character "goofiddles" along the trail. A complicated rhyme scheme draws the listener into the story. Barry Moser's dark and foreboding illustrations complement the text perfectly.

If you don't like "Once Upon a Twice" after reading it once, you will after you have read it twice.

* *

"Christian the Lion" by Anthony (Ace) Bourke and John Rendall (Henry Holt Books, ages 4-8, $16.99) is the latest way to enjoy this amazing true story.

Years ago Ace and John saw a lion cub living in a department store. They decided to give him a better life and took the lion into their home. As the lion grew, however, they realized that the wild of Africa is where he belonged.

You may have read their 1971 book, "A Lion Called Christian," but more likely you have seen one of the YouTube videos. This picture book shares the story in a format appealing to children. Christian tells his own story through a scrapbook. Photographs of the events emphasize that this really happened.

"Christian the Lion" shows the power of friendship and the importance of caring for all creatures of our world.

* *

"14 Cows for America," written by Carmen Agra Deedy with illustrations by Thomas Gonzalez and in collaboration with Kimeli Naiyoham (Peachtree Publishers, ages 6-10, $17.95), tells how a village in Kenya shared with America.

Kimeli Naiyoham was a student visiting New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. When he told the horrible events to his Maasai tribe, he closed by asking permission to give his only cow as a sacred gift of comfort to the American people. The elders agreed to that and much more.

Carman Agra Deedy shares Kimeli Naiyoham's story with amazing clarity for such sparse text. The illustrations by Thomas Gonzalez are rich in detail and emotion, balancing dark and bright colors. Kimeli tells of his background and explains more of the Maasai traditions central to the story in a note at the end of the book.