Bunnies, Best Friends and Ballyhoo!

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"Nighttime is here. Little bunnies are tucked in bed. Good night, good night, sleep tight " Not so fast! In The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds (Random House, $15.99; ages 3 to 7), three adorable wide-awake siblings want to party, as train engineers, cowboys, racecar drivers, whatever will create the most noise. "No more mischief tonight," beg their weary parents. With soothing repetition, fun-to-say sound effects and colorful paintings that convey emotion, Marisabina Russo brings her bedtime tale to a satisfying sleepy close.

Two best friends - one an optimist, the other a pessimist - star in the Elephant and Piggie Books, an energetic new early-reader series (Hyperion, $8.99 each; ages 4 to 8). Mo Willems, creator of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and other megahits, excels at telling a winning story economically. In Today I Will Fly, irrepressible Piggie attempts the impossible, while in My Friend Is Sad, he tries to cheer up the woebegone Elephant. With just a word or sentence per page, it's easy to imagine children learning how to read as they follow the stories. More Elephant and Piggie titles are on the way.

"The noblest art is that of making others happy," says circus-promoter P.T. Barnum in Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo? (Houghton Mifflin, $16; ages 4 to 8). Following his advice with this, her first book, Carlyn Beccia presents a mesmerizing alphabet book about the circus. Readers will learn tidbits about strongmen, bearded ladies, Annie Oakley, the Hilton sisters, and the ballyhoo - the free show before The Show. But the main attraction here is the multimedia art, gorgeously detailed in the style of vintage circus posters.

- Kathleen Krull