Russian children and students of the Russian language are as familiar with this poem as American kids are with Dr. Seuss. This version adds a few modern twists to the basic theme and smooths some of the stodginess that results from direct translation. The plot is simple: If the phone would just quit ringing, the narrator could get some peace and quiet. But his animal friends keep pelting him with requests. The crocodile wants delicious, nutritious galoshes, the doves demand gloves, the baboons require spoons. The rhyming nonsense continues throughout the day, until the exhausted narrator goes off to rescue a hippo stuck in the muck. That's where readers leave him, without knowing if he ever gets back to the land of nod. The rhyme bops along merrily, but the pictures provide the pizzazz. Radunsky pastes up photographed snippets of telephones and galoshes--along with jungle foliage swiped from Rousseau and fabric cut-outs--to provide colorful surroundings for his bright animal figures. The not-to-be-missed endpapers replicate pages from a phone book that lists first names such as ""Smokey,"" ""Teddy,"" and ""Yogi"" under the last name ""Bear."" Overall, a successful translation from east to west that proves the universal appeal of silliness.