Beyond the Caldecott winner's circle, severeal worthy works

"Win the Caldecott medal, which the American Library Association has been awarding annually since 1938 for ''the most distinguished picture book for children,'' and you join the august company of artists such as Robert McCloskey, Ludwig Bemelmans, Barbara Cooney, Maurice Sendak, and Margot Zemach."

"This year's winner is Eric Rohmann, for ''My Friend Rabbit,'' a merry tale of a well-meaning, bad-luck rabbit who brings chaos as he tries to retrieve his little mouse friend's airplane, which he'd sent loop-the-looping into a treetop. The text is suitably spare, and in the manner of Sendak's great ''Where the Wild Things Are'' (but without the nuance), words disappear entirely in the wild-action middle pages. The idiosyncratic ''Not to worry'' is repeated thrice, thus accounting for 11 percent of the pages' 80 words. The book will not win a literary award."

"The illustrations, either wood or lino prints, are fun, funny, and generous in spirit. It's a rollicking nice book. That's about it." (from The Boston Globe)

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