Books: Of Cats, Myths and Pizza

Vivid volumes celebrate children's imagination

Susan Sontag once defined books as "funny little portable pieces of thought." It is an apt description of this year's outstanding works for children. All twelve selected are thoughtful, small and funny in both senses of the word: odd and risible.

One winter morning, Will's mother and father inform him that his favorite fauna, the woolly mammoth, is extinct. But the boy knows better. Squinting his eyes, he manages to conjure up the prehistoric past, complete with saber- toothed tigers, early versions of horses, warthogs and, of course, the elephant's tusky ancestor. In Will's Mammoth (Putnam; $14.95), Stephen Gammell augments Rafe...

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