The text of this alphabet book makes a nice birthday gift, but the wrappings -- the exquisitely crafted illustrations -- are even better. Twenty-six dandily dressed critters (there is no animal for X, but the Lion has a scion) proclaim birthday greetings to lucky readers. The accompanying verses by Metaxas sometimes clank and rattle, but almost always play second fiddle to the drawings. ""O is for Orangutan,/who from a limb is seen to hang"" is awkward, but the ape's picture is worth its weight in words. Raglin (Pecos Bill, Picture Book Studio, 1991) shows a British influence: his impish humor and unstuffy formality are reminiscent of Tenniel or Graeme Base, though he does not possess the dynamism found in the latter's popular works. Readers with a knack for history can entertain themselves by trying to figure out the historical periods of the animals' elegant costumes. This bunch is a treat to behold.