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D.B. Johnson. Houghton Mifflin, $16 (32p)
M.C. Escher's grayscale tessellations and stairways-to-nowhere set the stage for this inspired adventure by Johnson (the Henry series). An architect's apprentice named Mauk (Escher's nickname) prepares for another day with "the Master," designing a grand palazzo. He jogs through courtyards, passing bricklayers "spilling bricks on the ceiling" and a fountain that is "falling up." Every surface is inside-out and upside-down, and mischievous Mauk is to blame: even though his only task is to sharpen pencils, he "might have turned the drawing around just a …