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Rien Poortvliet lives in a rustic house in the tiny Dutch village of Soestduinen. On a recent walk, the author found a chestnut on the ground and began kicking it ahead of him. After losing the first chestnut, he quickly found another and continued.

He's no better when it comes to sleep. Anything less than seven hours and he's miserable the next day. Away from home, he dreams of lying on his new, firm mattress, with his four dogs snoring by the bed and the window open so he can hear the owls over a cool, night breeze.Some might consider this behavior immature or childish.

Childish? Poortvliet happily agrees.

"My friend, Wil (author Huygen), has said, `When you have the child in your heart, be careful to keep it there, not to lose it," said Poortvliet, who collaborated with Huygen on the best-selling children's book "Gnomes" and the new "The Book of the Sandman" ($17.95, Abrams).

"When making books or drawings, I do have the child in my heart," he said. "I don't want to let that part of myself get away." - Hillel Italie (Associated Press)


DOES GOD HAVE A BIG TOE? By Mark Gellman; Illustrated by Oscar deMejo; Harper & Row; 88 pages; $16.95.

Time Magazine selected this book as one of the 12 best children's books of the year. A little reading shows why. The text - by a rabbi - is bright, imaginative and sassy. The artwork is fun and offbeat.

In fact, it's the offbeat quality of the book that makes it interesting. In conversational from-the-cuff style, the author tells us how Adam tried to number the animals instead of naming them, but he lost count. We learn that Noah really wanted to take his friends on the ark but when told "no" he figured all the extra space must be for the mail. We discover dolphins in the Red Sea.

Some readers may feel the text skirts a little to close to irreverence for their taste, but Gellman's warm and genuine love of the Bible and its stories tends to carry the day and short-circuit the feeling that the book is a parody or put-down. - Jerry Johnston (Deseret News)

MOSES' ARK; By Alice Bach and J. Cheryl Exum; Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon; Delacorte; 179 pages; $14.95.

Another Bible book, this one written by two women and told straighter. Bach and Exum don't rely on imagination and delivery as much as an ability to find interesting little stories in the Bible in fresh translation, or stories that have often gone unnoticed.

Since the Bible used here is the Hebrew Bible, Christian kids will run across tales and parables they'll never find in their own scriptures, but the stories are interesting and have a solid message.

We follow the people of the Old Testament through the Garden of Eden, the Flood, the Tower and eventually end with Solomon's wisdom and Elijah's fervor.

The prose is simple and the vocabulary well within the range of fourth graders.

The illustrations are black and white and impressionistic. - Jerry Johnston (Deseret News)