cover image Sable


Karen Hesse. Redfeather Books, $15.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-2416-6

Hesse ( Letters from Rifka ) turns out an exemplary chapter book with this superbly structured work about a girl and her dog. Tate's greatest wish is to keep the mutt that has strayed into her family's yard: ``Mam and Pap hadn't said I could keep her,'' confides Tate, the narrator. ``But they hadn't said I couldn't, either.'' The plot is familiar--Mam doesn't like dogs, Pap is sympathetic but stern, and when neighbors start complaining about the dog, Mam and Pap find it a new home, far away. Hesse, however, makes the story seem fresh. A few deft references evoke the setting, rural New England in the indeterminate past, and skillful use of easy-to-read language supplies the color (Mam, for example, doesn't simply bake bread; instead, ``The muscles worked in her long back as her fist kneaded dough''). Tate herself is appealingly resourceful and determined, and the obstacles in her path are neither entirely predictable nor too neatly hurdled. Each chapter swings the reader through a spectrum of emotions and a comfortable surge of expectation. Ages 7-9. (Apr.)