Anne F. Rockwell, , illus. by Paul Meisel. . HarperCollins, $14.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-028440-4

When Morgan Brownbear moves into a new house, his next-door neighbor (and confirmed jock) Nina Jane Monkey talks him into going out for soccer. "On Saturday morning Morgan couldn't wait to put on his soccer clothes." But on the field, it's a different story, especially when he trips over the ball while dribbling and catches it in his hands. Under Nina Jane's tutelage, Morgan improves, but during the team's first scrimmage, he once again instinctively uses his hands to catch the ball. Luckily, his savvy coach turns Morgan's instincts into a strength by assigning him the position of goalie. Rockwell spotlights a common childhood scenario in this straightforward and agile tale, and the hapless Morgan will likely win sympathy from budding athletes and sports enthusiasts. Cheery watercolor and gouache illustrations convey the friends' dedicated practice drills, while an assortment of animal characters in soccer uniforms—notably the giraffe in the purple team shirt—add a light comic touch. Ages 4-6. (Aug.)