January 28, 1991 12:00 PM

by Alice Provensen

“This is very confusing,” says Kate, and indeed it is, if you expect a standard picture book.

Think instead of wall hangings, quilts or plates: What Provensen offers is a tapestry of presidential tidbits, suitable for framing but not necessarily for studying. Teachers and parents, with some help from the more conventional notes at the back of the book, will have to fill in the historical details of the framework Provensen has sketched. Though it’s unlikely the 41 rhymes (“Here’s Twenty-seven, big Bill Taft,/ Always graceful, fore and aft”) will aid anybody’s memory, the author’s lively approach gives her subjects contemporary appeal. (HarperCollins, $17.95; all ages)

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