In a poetic text using the patterns of black speech, the narrator tells how every. body waiting for the school bus ""in weather colder than a roller skate"" takes flight in the fog when someone whispers ""Boo!"" and ""fly/like a space-flight demon/in a rush-hour car/all bittered-in like a winter lemon."" A stone lion looms in the mist--""Right on the ridge like a crown. Bold!/Crouched above the city lane./Green./ Arrogant./Stern./Stolid./Haughty./Snide. . .Its jaws are declarative and wide."" Running, savoring their delicious, imaginative fear, the children know it's ""Just a lion/and made of stone,"" and yet--it's a lion! In this, her first book for children, Fields has captured a universal experience in a text remarkable for its subtle use of a strong, rhythmic, yet varied cadence and a complex pattern of repetitions and echoes of similar sounds that, like all good poetry, is best appreciated aloud. Pickney introduces 15 children on the jacket and carefully follows individuals through the story. (They do seem a little old--the girl with the fourth-grade math book looks like a sixth grader; more realistically, the group would be grades K-5 rather than 3-7 as pictured.) His watercolor style is free and sure, capturing the imaginary jungle beast and the real stone lion, and orchestrating the crowd of kids, ""with courage shattering/like a summer windowpane,"" ""just checking it out,"" or--finally--pretending to be a lion. Extending and reinforcing the text, the illustrations make a fine addition to award-winning Pinkney's work.