Katie Couric, Katherine Couric, , illus. by Marjorie Priceman. . Doubleday, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-385-50142-2

The creators of The Brand New Kid bring back best friends Ellie McSnelly and Carrie O'Toole in this reassuring if cliché-riddled tale about dealing with disappointment and discovering one's special talent. After the pals spy a sign announcing tryouts for the school soccer team, "Carrie said, 'Great! Hey, let's give it a whirl!/ I'd love to be known as a cool soccer girl!' " In rhymed couplets that range from amusing to corny, the narrative describes the tryouts and the sobering results for Ellie, who fails to make the team. Her mother consoles her, yet delivers a muddled message ("Her mom said, 'Don't worry, I know you are sad,/ but you couldn't feel good if you never felt bad' "). Luckily, Ellie excels in academia, teaming up with her lab partner (the no-longer brand-new kid, Lazlo) to enter a project in the science fair. Readers will be pleased though hardly surprised that both girls earn their equivalent of a blue ribbon. Priceman's signature bright hues and whimsical flourishes inject some spirit into the spot and full-bleed illustrations, but the plot does not offer her an opportunity to exhibit her usual range here. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)