When I First Came to This Land, retold by Harriet Ziefert, pictures by Simms Taback; G.P. Putnam's Sons, $15.99 -- Ziefert's sprightly humor and Taback's exuberant illustrations describe the mishaps, setbacks and simple joys of the new immigrant learning the pioneer life, in the irresistible sing-song form of cumulative verse, based on a song brought by a German immigrant to Pennsylvania more than a century ago. ("I called my wife/Spice-of-my-life! I called my pig/Too-darn-big! I called my cow/No milk-now! I called my shack/Break-my-back!")
The Jungle ABC by Michael Roberts; Hyperion, $19.95 -- Roberts' spectacular collage illustrations, made with cutouts of colored paper, are an exotic, colorful celebration of Africa. B (for bananas) is a full page of bright yellow fruit and green leaves on black, for an effect like patterned cloth. E (for elephant) shows only an elephant's trunk, black on white, sucking up leaves and twigs. F (for fire) is figures dancing around a blazing fire.
-- Jean Westmoore
A Firing Offense, by David Ignatius; Ivy, $6.99 -- A taut, compelling, scary thriller in which New York Mirror reporter Eric Truell, on assignment in Paris, lands the scoop of a lifetime. As Truell's ties to the CIA deepen, he becomes trapped in a web of espionage and murder that stretches from Washington to Beijing. -- Ed Kelly