cover image THE MOON IN MY ROOM


Ila Wallen-Laguercia, , illus. by Robert Sauber. . Bent Willow, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-9710627-0-2

The first of a projected series, this moralistic and plodding volume kicks off the Willowbe Woods Campfire Stories. The "Willowbeings" (a group of forest creatures) gather around a campfire where a cub named Will begs Papa Rango to tell his story: "The one where I thought something was under my bed;/ The one where I learned being scared was just in my head." In the well-worn scenario that follows, Will overcomes his fear of the dark by himself (using a nightlight), after finding his friends' suggestions unsatisfactory. Sophie the Fox offers her trampoline (" 'The dark does not scare me,' Sophie said, 'but high places used to./ Then I got a trampoline and saw sights that were new' "), while Bunny the Rabbit thinks it would be better if Will couldn't hear anything ("I think my fluffy ear muffs could be of some use./ They keep sounds out with feathers that come from a goose"). Unfortunately, few of the rhymes scan, which turns reading aloud into rather a chore, and the cluttered design slows the pacing. Often where one illustration would suffice, several pictures create an unnecessary time-lapse exercise (e.g., on one spread, Sophie greets Will from a distance, they walk side-by-side, then sit under a tree). And Will wears the same wide-eyed, tongue-wagging expression in most of the garish illustrations. Endpaper maps (with as-yet-unvisited sites such as the "Pool of Humor") hint at the episodes to come. Ages 2-7. (Jan.)