Karen Salmansohn, ONE PUPPY, THREE TALESKaren S. , $12.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-58246-044-4

Launching the affecting Alexandra Rambles On! series, this trio of stories introduces a loquacious 12-year-old who (despite the book's rather curious title) does not get her coveted puppy. Alexandra's extemporaneous, first-person narrative tackles dilemmas all too familiar to preadolescents. She is embarrassed by her mother, a "cabaret lounge singer" who dresses eccentrically and "does not know how to act her age." She discusses various girls' cliques in school and tries to figure out where she fits in, remarking "I have sooo many different kinds of people inside me. And I never know who I am going to be and when." And she is frustrated by her inability to communicate with her hardworking, always-preoccupied father. Adult author Salmansohn (Even God Is Single, So Stop Giving Me a Hard Time) makes her children's book debut, and deftly finds satisfying—and credible—solutions to all three concerns plaguing her plucky heroine. An aspiring veterinarian whose love of animals colors her breezy monologue, Alexandra frequently draws analogies between the behavior of those around her and that of various species (e.g., after noting that her mother wears zebra-print skirts, she compares her mother to the independent-thinking zebra: "A horse can be trained, but a zebra cannot"). The design of this paper-over-board book echoes the spontaneity of the narrator's voice; animated, childlike drawings accompany a hand-lettered text, which appears in a variety of configurations. Readers will be eager to follow future ramblings-on of the amiable Alexandra. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)