Claire Freedman, , illus. by Vanessa Cabban. . Tiger Tales, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-58925-030-7

On a lovely fall day, a gosling named Gooseberry is having a great time practicing his nascent flying skills. "Clear the runway!" he shouts at Beaver as he prepares for take-off. "Vrooooom!" He demonstrates his loop-the-loop for Mouse and his soaring technique for Rabbit. But his animal friends can't linger to savor his triumphs because they're preparing for winter, which prompts Gooseberry to wonder if he's missing out on something important. He's not anatomically equipped to collect seeds and berries as Mouse does, and he doesn't have a dam to build like Beaver. With a smile, Gooseberry's parents explain that geese go south for the winter, and that by practicing his flying, "You've been getting ready for winter all day!" The openhearted message—that difference can be celebrated—comes through lightly but unmistakably in Freedman's (Night-Night, Emily ) vivacious and assured storytelling and Cabban's (Little Bear's Grandpa) illustrations, which emphasize the hero's budding talents and the woodland friends' affections. Although the animals have urgent tasks waiting, they find time to note and enjoy Gooseberry's growing acumen (Rabbit slings his arm around the goose with chumlike pride), and the hero's cluelessness about migratory habits is never made the butt of a joke. Cabban's characterizations strike a satisfying balance between anthropomorphism and realism, and her watercolors glow with autumn light. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)