cover image Whistling Dixie

Whistling Dixie

Marcia Vaughan. HarperCollins Publishers, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021030-4

In this tale of preposterous pets, a promising story line is dampened by ill-suited artwork. When Dixie Lee brings home a series of not-so-homeless and unlikely pets-including a ``little bitty gator,'' a ``slithery snake'' and an owl ``stuck'' in a tree-Mama grudgingly lets her keep the critters, persuaded by the girl's dubious arguments (the owl, for example, will ``keep the mist sisters from floating down [the chimney] and leaving a parcel of bad luck behind''). Dixie Lee's arguments are, of course, ultimately vindicated. Vaughan's (Wombat Stew; The Sea-Breeze Hotel) rustic humor and attempts at evoking a backwoods atmosphere lose their force as the cycle of events is repeated with each new animal discovery. Moser's portrait-like illustrations are characteristically handsome but static, seeming to freeze the action rather than advance it. Even in their depiction of a marauding bogeyman, these pictures display a formality at odds with the text's shenanigans. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)