Picks and Pans Review: Animal Crackers

updated 03/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Hannah Tinti

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This debut, a collection of stories featuring animals, is the product of a young writer experimenting and searching for her strengths. One of the best entries is "Home Sweet Home," a literary murder mystery in which the killer's dog discovers the crime. Completely different is the hilarious "Reasonable Terms," about giraffes who present a list of demands to the zookeeper (a bigger pen, more privacy and "the possibility of ice cream"). "Miss Waldron's Red Colobus" is a luminous tale about a girl who escapes from finishing school. The realistic stories aren't as successful as the whimsical ones, and some details are a bit forced. But this is an enjoyable set from a writer on the move.

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