Karin Cates, , illus. by Nancy Carpenter. . HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-15938-2

Poor Grandmother keeps dispatching family members into the woods to gather enough firewood before the "long, hard winter" arrives, but instead of collecting wood, each person comes back with his or her clothes in tatters and a tale of a tussle with wild animals. Newcomer Cates follows a successful folktale formula to a T with a no-nonsense grandma and her catchy refrain. To each relative's cockamamy excuse the woman replies, "Well, that's a far-fetched story!… It's a pity but it can't be helped, and I'm afraid we'll have to burn your [garment] for firewood." Carpenter's (Fannie in the Kitchen) sprightly vintage-style watercolor-and-ink drawings conjure a faraway and long-ago setting where children freely roam the woods alone and toddlers can play safely in the yard unattended. Grandmother's facial expressions belie her patient responses. In an ingenious touch, Carpenter presents each family member's rendition of his or her animal encounter as a color transfer on white linen, embellished with machine stitching; it's a nice link to the story's conclusion, which features Grandmother working magic with a needle to keep her family warm through the winter. Ages 5-up. (Feb.)