cover image Don't Split the Pole

Don't Split the Pole

Eleanora E. Tate. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $14.95 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32302-4

Adult rules and regulations are turned on their heads by this crafty author whose stories leap off the page and lodge straight in the funny bone. This collection of seven short stories, all based on common proverbs, are unconventional and exuberant. In ""What Goes Around Comes Around,"" Taneshia Butler summons a psychic to nab a boyfriend for her best friend, Sudsey. The psychic agrees--if they both clean the house daily for three weeks. When Sudsey dumps her to go off with the new boyfriend, Taneshia finds out that the clairvoyant (really her actress grandmother) has some real magic in store for her. Another tale, ""Good Things Come in Small Packages,"" makes a maritime hero out of a 12-year-old boy so short he looks like an elf and who has a ghost for a pal. Tate (A Blessing in Disguise) jams her stories with sparkling details and memorable characters. The children are refreshingly modern; they have e-mail and dial 900 numbers; their parents work at the Department of Social Services or on oil rigs in Kuwait. Other memorable characters include Miz Zip, who ""sounded just like that black lady in `Gone With the Wind' ""; brave little Tucker ""who could jump like a flea on the basketball court""; amateur fisherman Russell, whose thumb gets stuck in something creepy under the river, and elderly basset hound Maggie, who busts out of her yard and ends up on the seasick thrill of her life. Dramatic b&w drawings capture the climactic moment in each tale. Ages 7-11. (Oct.)