cover image Chestnut Cove

Chestnut Cove

Tim Egan, Andrew Lewis. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-69823-5

Readers who were charmed by the subtle illustrations and dry wit of Egan's Friday Night at Hodges' Cafe will find more of the same in his second picture book. Chestnut Cove, a coastal village, harbors a neighborly population of animal characters, most of them hippo-like. When their king says he'll bequeath his realm to ``whosoever grows the largest and juiciest watermelon,'' the townsfolk scoff-at first. Then they consider the perks of wealth: ``It was endless how much they didn't have.'' Before long, each homeowner jealously tends a melon garden: Joe Morgan and his cow, Thelma, slosh milk at would-be trespassers, and Mrs. Lark and her pig, Eloise, sleep outdoors to protect their gargantuan fruit. Only when Eloise slips off a cliff and Joe Morgan climbs to her rescue do Chestnut Cove's denizens agree to resume their friendly ways. Egan follows a familiar recipe for conflict in introducing the town-wide competition; his tale of how greed can threaten friendship is well-worn but astutely told. Although some may wish for a less moralistic tale, the author's artwork-with its warm, organic tones of green, gray, brown and yellow-is both highly original in its sensibility and classic in its appeal. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)