Three little stories for the beginning reader who's read all the Little Bear books and is ready for second-string versions. The first, ""Little Otter's Birthday Gift"" (what would Mother Otter like best?), is also a near-ringer for Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present--with a dismaying, heartless finale. Mother Otter first consoles Little Otter for returning empty-handed (""I have you""), then serves him her freshly-baked cake: ""but Little Otter felt so bad. . . he could not eat a single piece."" In the second, Little Otter remembers, finally, where he put his pine cone--for safekeeping, ""in a box in my drawer""; in the last, none of his friends will come to his coasting party (most are digging in for the winter) but his family turns out en masse, and maybe ""one hundred and forty-seven"" downhill slides are sufficient consolation. Altogether a less satisfying work than Little Fox Goes to the End of the World, last year's Tompert-Wallner collaboration, though the spry, lightly crayoned pictures--in yellows, blues, and greens--and the invitingly varied page design are well above the norm for this genre.