It's doubtful that many children will wish to identify either with the passive schleppiness of late-blooming Leo or his sudden florescence (""He could read!/ He could write!. . . He ate neatly!"") but they can enjoy the springlike colors which anticipate and capture the advent of his salad days, mixing blue elephants and spotted snakes with the cascading foliage, and the appealingly bashful expressions of the tiger family (not lions as Leo's Christian name might suggest) court an empathic response. In trying to flesh out the inherently sketchy story Aruego is forced at times into an unbecoming literalness, but he has rescued Kraus from yet another kind of bloomer.