cover image Don't Laugh, Joe

Don't Laugh, Joe

Keiko Kasza. Putnam Publishing Group, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23036-3

Kasza's (The Wolf's Chicken Stew) good-hearted humor, played out by a cast of affable animals, adds irresistible charm to a light plot. Characteristically buoyant, her art delivers close-range views of the whimsical facial expressions of the giddy title character, his concerned mother and other domesticated woodland buddies. Mother Possum, who's trying to teach Joe the critical tactic of playing dead, is understandably worried that her offspring can't control his giggling. ""Dead possums don't laugh!"" she chastises her carefree student. But after the appearance of a grumpy old bear gives Joe a chance to prove his survival skills, the young possum also learns the value of what he does best: laughing. And Joe's giggles, conveyed so mirthfully in Kasza's pictures, are pretty contagious. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)