cover image Wood Could

Wood Could

Tiffany Stone, illus. by Mike Lowery. Dial, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7352-3081-1

In a loose conceptual follow-up to the creators’ Knot Cannot, Wood is sleeping like the log he is (beside a sign that reads “DO NOT DISTURB! THIS MEANS YOU!”) when a brown-skinned girl enters the forest and quickly becomes determined to cast Wood as her partner in pretend play. “Look, Prince Fluffybutt,” she says to the stuffed toy rabbit cradled in her arm: “A UNICORN!” Can Wood imagine himself as fabulous steed to her princess? Yes. Will he do it? No: “Why go out on a limb for a stranger?” After a series of rebuffs—the child keeps trying to cast the rankled log in sidekick roles ranging from boat to ship to ladder—Wood hears the child’s sobs and finds her stuck in a tree with Prince Fluffybutt. “Maybe it was time to turn over a new leaf,” Wood thinks: “Yes, Wood would.” This story seems all fun and games, from Stone’s could-would refrain and long string of wood-related wordplay to Lowery’s clear-lined panels, which move between the girl’s fantasies and Wood’s grumpy reality. But ultimately, the payoff is anything but trivial, as the wooden protagonist finds a warm feeling in helping another. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Hilary McMahon, Westwood Creative Artists. Illustrator’s agent: Susan McCabe, Lilla Rogers Studios. (Apr.) [/em]