cover image Moose Tales

Moose Tales

Nancy Van Laan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $15 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-395-90863-1

A companionable band of woodland friends welcomes readers in this endearing early chapter book. The most winning of Van Laan's (Little Fish Lost) three tales may be the last, in which Moose and Beaver, after relishing the feeling of snow falling (their blissed-out grins are hilarious), build a ""snow creature"" with their friends. Each animal contributes a fitting feature--Mouse adds pine-needle whiskers, Beaver two large teeth--but Moose muses, ""Something is still missing,"" until he adds the crowning glory: two branches for antlers. Then all five animals admire their creation. Rusch makes her children's book debut with ink and colored-pencil artwork that features quirky forms: the outline of a row of bushes, for example, resembles a coastline on a map. The short sentences and repetition lend themselves to droll humor, as when Beaver is pinned under a tree: "" `Beaver is stuck,' said Moose. `We must unstick him.' "" Youngsters will hope for many happy returns for this quintet of friends. Ages 6-9. (Sept.)