Fannie in the Kitchen, by Deborah Hopkinson, pictures by Nancy Carpenter (Atheneum, $16). For ages 4 to 9. Hopkinson uses humor and a minimum of words to tell the charming story of a little girl in Boston who learns to cook the most perfect biscuits and pancakes from Fannie Farmer, a woman hired as a mother's help. (The real Fanny Farmer, who walked with a limp from either polio or a stroke, left the Shaw home in Boston to teach at the Boston Cooking School and become famous for her never-fail recipes with their precise measurements.) The story is charmingly told, and Carpenter's pen, ink and watercolor illustrations, inspired by 19th century etchings and engravings, are spectacular. The handsome volume is also sprinkled with quotes from the 1896 and 1906 editions of her Boston School Cooking Book.
The Princess and the Pea, adapted and illustrated by Alain Vaes (Little, Brown, $15.95). For ages 3 to 6. A truck-driving princess from the wrong side of the kingdom overcomes every obstacle in the way of marrying the prince in this humorous, offbeat version of the traditional fairy tale. Vaes' droll paintings add a humorous note.
The Burger and the Hot Dog, by Jim Aylesworth, Stephen Gammell (Atheneum, $16.95). For ages 5 to 8. This marvelous book of silly poems reaches the same inspired level of madcap hilarity achieved by their previous collaboration, "Old Black Fly." This time they find inspiration in food, including a stick of gum lamenting the fate of a chewed wad, a real banana ignored by a plastic banana, a burger fighting with a hot dog and a smelly cheese named Woodrow who finds happiness with a "pungent wedge" named Wanda.
-- Jean Westmoore