cover image Moose Street

Moose Street

Anne Mazer. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $13 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-83233-1

This sometimes eccentric story of a Jewish girl among her Catholic and Protestant neighbors overdoses on black humor and other typically adult commodities. Back in the days when a candy bar cost a nickel, Lena immerses herself in the life of Moose Street, playing with the twins Mary Catherine and Catherine Mary, worrying that a nun she passes might know she's Jewish, fending off accusations that her ancestors killed Christ,stet comma and fearing the morbid spinsters next door (when Lena's mother has her bring them soup, she is, in Lena's opinion, ``sending her oldest daughter into a deadly trap''). Mazer's taste for the absurd doesn't suit her themes: Lena's anxieties about her religious identity are too quirkily presented to earn the reader's sympathies (Barbara Barrie's Lone Star provides a more affecting treatment). An elliptical narrative, a reluctance to resolve the characters' conflicts and inexplicable shifts between past and present tense all suggest a mannered taste unlikely to engross the intended audience. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)