A collection of 19 southern-style short stories that sizzle in places, but all too often end up overdone--sort of like refried Bobble Ann Mason. With characters named Thildalee, Therma Ann, and Ladella, there's something insistently southern bumpkin here that never quite rings true. Moose (The Wreath Ribbon Quilt, 1987) is not convincing at mustering much emotion from cornball, tacky details like Thildalee's heart-shaped pink bed or Therma Ann's polyester dress. It all seems pretty pat--and flat. But the author's gaze is both sharp and funny, and when she chooses to focus it on more solid ground, the results can be delightful. In "The Silver Crescent," 13-year-old Patsy, accompanied by her grandmother and her aunt, takes her first train ride north to visit relatives in New Jersey. It's the grandmother's first train trip too, and Moose captures it deftly and evocatively--the prickly train seats, the linen headrests, and Grandma's bleak suspicions. Meanwhile, "Rules and Secrets" is an affecting reminiscence of a favorite grammar-school teacher, Miss Melody McLean, who was pretty and kind and just offbeat enough; "King of the Comics" is a sweet, funny untangling of feelings and memories between a mother and daughter. And "Even the Bees in Denmark," the least southern of all the pieces here, follows an American couple as they tour Denmark. What Lucy sees on her travels is not at all what her husband Allan chooses to see, and the bare bones of their marriage lie neatly exposed by the story's end. In all, a mixed batch that gets better where it's not batter-dipped.