The Surprise Picnic, by John S. Goodall (Atheneum. $4.95). A truly old-world, wordless picture book telling of the adventures of a cat and her two kittens when they set off for a picnic. The format is beguiling with four-color paintings filling each page. Interspersed are half-page illustrations that cunningly further the plot. The relatively how low price of such a lavish little book is probably explained by the "printed in Hong Kong" annotation. Another reminder that rising costs have made color picture books and endangered species. (Ages 3-7)

Sweet Pickles: Goose Goofs Off; Fixed by Camel; Stork Spills the Beans; Me Too Iguana; Zip Goes Zebra; Very Worried Walrus, by Jacquelyn Reinach and Richard Hefter (Holt Rinehart & Winston, $2.95 per volume). A pleasant change to find "problem" books for the very young that ate energetic, funny, colorful and unequivocally didactic - not to mention attractively made and reasonably priced. The animals in the world of Sweet pickles have very human failings of laziness, timidity, bumptiousness, practical joking and son on, but every problem is finally and firmly solved. By a miracle the books avoid preaching - perhaps the exuberant and zany artwork sweetens the medicine. (Ages 4-7)

The Bat-Poet, by Randall Jarrell, pictures by Maurice Sendak (Collier/Macmillan, paperback $1.95). "The trouble," said the bat, "isn't making poems, the trouble's finding somebody that will listen to them." It turns out that it's tough to be a poet whether human or bat.

Randall Jarell's simple classic has poem woven into the fabric of the tale, which is in turn effortlessly reflected by Sendak's illustrations. Now available in an elegant paperback edition, the story speaks clearly to children of many ages on different levels, and parents too will not escape its spell. (Ages 8-12)

Adventures in the World of Work Series (Random House Paperback, $2.50 per volume). Now available: Who Puts the Prints on the Page?; Who Puts the News on Television?; Who Puts the Grooves in the Records?; Who Puts the Plane in the Air?; Who keeps America Clean? This series is most remarkable for its titles and choice of intriguing careers. Once past the title the treatment is rather lackluster despite the first-person chats, and the photographs are so candid that its hard to tell who's doing what. However, each volume gives equal voice to the lesser known support functions vital to the pop stars, newscasters, journalists and pilots: the typesetters, the studio engineers, the baggage supervisors at airports, etc. The information is useful, but the overall effect is simplistic and, at times, condescending. (Ages 9-14)