cover image Whoo Goes There?

Whoo Goes There?

Jennifer A. Ericsson, , illus. by Bert Kitchen. . Roaring Brook/Porter, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-371-7

Compelling pacing, dark colors and an air of mystery lend significance to a series of events that might otherwise go unnoticed. Sitting on a bare tree limb under a full moon, Owl hears a rustling noise. “Whoo goes there ? thought Owl. Is it a mouse—a fat little mouse just right for my dinner ?” But no, it's a cat. The sequence is repeated with different animals: Owl's prospect always turns out to be either an unappetizing animal or prey that another animal has gotten to first—a useful lesson in the series of near misses that constitute the life of a predator. Ericsson's (A Piece of Chalk ) sentences are short and spare, but the tension builds as Owl keeps getting fooled. Kitchen (Animal Alphabet ) is master of the whisker-thin paint stroke—readers can almost see the porcupine's quills quiver in the velvety night. His paintings of the animals are a little like solemn American primitive portraits, though more detailed—and they add a layer of complexity to a deceptively simple book. Ages 2–6. (Oct.)