A wonderful idea if only it had worked. . . to bring Whitman's catalogue of the ""varied carols"" of American workmen to picture book life. Krahn attacks the project with gusto and a flurry of good-humored detail -- a mason singing in his spotted undershorts as he dons his workclothes on a high scaffold, glimpses of a piano lesson going on inside an apartment building window, the shoemaker's bench littered with a potpourri of shoe styles. Nevertheless, Krahn's nebbishy cartoon figures lack the expansiveness and vigor of Whitman, and come close to turning this hearty paean into a nostalgia trip.