Nancy Van Laan, , illus. by Victoria Chess. . Atheneum/Schwartz, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81875-2

The three rhymed stories in this semi-scary collection vary in their effectiveness, but Chess's quirky illustrations will delight her many fans. Van Laan (When Winter Comes) fills the first two stories with clever wordplay and characters, but the plots fall a bit flat. In "Old Doctor Wango Tango," the author introduces the stingy doctor through diverting descriptions—plus his pets—at length. Then, in a single page, they are inexplicably blown away by a "wahooing wind." In "It," various body parts come "bounding, "whooshing" and "thumping" down the stairs one at a time, then stick together. But when IT "stroll[s] to town," the wrap-up seems abrupt. The third story appropriates the plot of the old campground ghost story about the golden arm, featuring a hairy toe instead. When the creature screeches, "Give me back my hairy toe!" the old woman returns it and happily goes back to bed. With a touch of Edward Gorey and a scruffy cast of characters, Chess (A Hippopotamusn't) lends this eccentric cast a bit of charm. She portrays the doctor and his creature companions as a sort of misfit family; the various limbs of "IT" seem to belong together even before they join up. The title page of each internal story features an engaging child reading the book who grows increasingly frightened at each tale. More droll than frightening, these teeny tiny tingly tales happily will produce only the smallest of shivers. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)