Moose makes a mess of everything

Careful reading is important. Just see what happens in " Chocolate Moose" by Maggie Kneen (Dutton Children's Books, ages 3-5, $16.99).

Moose misreads a help-wanted sign in Mrs. Mouse's bakery. With four young children, she needed a mouse to help her two hours a day, but gives Moose a chance. A moose working in a mouse-sized kitchen turns out to be disastrous.

Kneen writes a charming, full-fledged story for very young listeners. Her playful illustrations are bright and cheerful and her characters show amazing facial expressions.

Moose spills, trips, splatters, and makes a mess of everything in the kitchen. He realizes he is not the right moose for the job. Luckily, though, Mrs. Mouse notices how much her children love the antics of Moose. Instead of hiring an assistant baker, she gets a huge, lovable baby sitter.

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"Shoe-la-la!" by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Scholastic, ages 4-8 , $16.99), is a fun book.

Four young girls have "party dresses, party hair," but they "need party shoes to wear." They love shopping and looking at the latest styles. Every pair looks fun yet not quite perfect, so they end up buying nothing.

Beaumont writes a snappy, rhyming story that just rolls off the tongue. The illustrations by Pham show four very diverse friends, each showing their own unique style.

Exhausted and at a loss as to what to do, they come up with the perfect solution. Each girl takes a pair of their own shoes and customizes them with ribbons, feathers and sparkles so they can look like party girls.

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"A Dazzling Display of Dogs," by Betty Franco, illustrated by Michael Wertz (Tricycle Press, ages 8-12, $16.99), is a crazy collection of canine concrete poems.

The poems range from the simple "Emmett's Ode to his Tennis Ball" being printed on a tennis ball to "Old Lottie On a Walk" being read by following the words around the streets of a suburban neighborhood.

Children will love the variety of the 33 poems by Franco.

Most are rhyming, but they all incorporate the text into the illustrations to create a multidimensional poetic experience.

Wertz's illustrations fill each page with lavish blocks of color and careful attention to the message of each poem.