Two diminuitive (6fl x 5) books in a new series intended, we're told, to help children learn ""basic concepts."" In the first, Dog (big, male) wants to learn to read, and Cat (small, female), who knows how, sits him down with her alphabet book so he can learn his letters. Unsurprisingly (since he's had no help), he can't tell her that evening what letter Hippopotamus begins with--or Bear or even Zebra. But that night he dreams that he and Cat are in a Chinese restaurant (she had made a Chinese dinner), that she reads a fortune-cookie message saying he'll learn to read when he's ""traveled the world and found the horse in the black and white striped pajamas,"" that he does indeed travel the world--via nonsense alphabet--and finds, ""in Zanzibar,"" the horse in the black and white striped pajamas. . . who is of course a Zebra. This is more ingenious than clever--and one of the more tortuous introductions to a very ""basic concept"" around. (Why not, for goodness sakes, give a child a rhyming alphabet book to start with?) In the second, meant to introduce the idea of left and right, poor Dog is again at a loss: if he can't learn to tell his left foot from his right, he won't be able to lead the parade celebrating the 100th anniversary of the settling of the animals' Valley. The letters L and R, painted on his feet, wash off in the tub; if he's away from the dining table, he can't remember that he's right-handed. But Cat again comes through: if Dog carries the Valley flag resting on his left shoulder, he'll be able to step out with his left foot first. It's a shapelier, more amusing item than the other--but a pretty roundabout way to get at something simple (a narrow, mechanical way too--with none of the ripple-effect of more creative concept books).