This uneven collection of poems from Schertle (Maisie, 1995, etc.), while including a few humorous moments, often suffers from preciousness or collapses under the strain of overwrought imagery. A boastful beetle stars in one of the finest pieces, a crude little taunter who gets smoked by a woodpecker; charming, also, is the lizard who busily cranks out thirty push-ups while on the vertical. When haiku is attempted--""The thin shadow of/a fox slides across the wall/of the chicken coop""--the result is wooden instead of oblique. Other poems seem to reach too hard, with self-conscious results: ""Shy and hidden/shadow things/of pipe and ring/and strange remembered power./Shadow voices/ high and thin/quiver in the wind/this witching hour."" Pipe and ring? Remembered power? Rand's illustrations have a certain atmospheric power, but sometimes accentuate the mawkish aspects of the poems.