WATER PUP.Written and illustratedby Peter...

BOOK BRIEFS

June 13, 1993|By JUDITH B. ROSENFELD BROADCAST BLUES. Eric Burns. HarperCollins. 241 pages. $22. | JUDITH B. ROSENFELD BROADCAST BLUES. Eric Burns. HarperCollins. 241 pages. $22.,LOS ANGELES TIMES TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY. Joe Weber. Putnam. 332 pages. $22.95.

WATER PUP.

Written and illustrated

by Peter Parnall.

Macmillan.

140 pages. $13.95; 11 and up. Peter Parnall turns his artist's eye to the adventures of Lop, a mostly Labrador pup who successfully survives her first year of life in the wild -- not the preferred setting for a young dog. Her mother had been abandoned as she was near the time for delivering her 11th litter; she was left, bewildered, on a country road. After five pups, Lop was born, smaller than her brothers, but more assertive. When her mother did not return to their den one day, Lop found food for herself -- frogs at first, and then skunks and hares. Finding a mother fox and her cubs, Lop manages to be adopted by carefully observing and obeying actions and orders.

Humans enter her life to provide a reminder of the domesticated life most Lab puppies experience, but when she meets someone who expects her to work as a watchdog in a junkyard, she's just a failure. But she meets the perfect human, a young boy named Roz. Young readers will decide that after the harrowing adventures of Lop's first year, she deserves the love and attention of Roz and his family.

Mr. Parnall, who has won three Caldecott Honor Medals for his illustrations, has created a suspenseful read-aloud book for mixed ages who will enjoy his descriptive writing and intricate drawings.

Eric Burns' vividly reported narrative -- the darkest assessment of TV news since Edward Jay Epstein's "News From Nowhere" (1973) -- chronicles his 20-year path from an idealistic cub reporter bemused by the cynical old ways of the world to a jaded, bitter man who gets fired after telling his senior producer, "You have the intelligence of a crustacean and the judgment of a slug."

Mr. Burns' estrangement begins when an assignment editor favors him with what is considered to be a plum task: being the first to interview a woman who has just found out that her daughter's beaten body has been discovered in the forest. At his boss' urging, Mr. Burns persuades the woman to agree to a TV interview by using huckster lines like, "You could be an example for others, an inspiration." When he succeeds, his boss showers him with approval: "All right! . . . You reeled her in like a pro! Gonna make some history tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I feel it!"

The monster that is Mr. Burns' alienation grows in that vast gulf between his own feelings of being sullied by the intrusive, exploitative interview and his need, as a young man starved for validation, to believe in his boss's praise.

Brad Austin, a character in Joe Weber's earlier "Rules of Engagement," returns to action in the Vietnam War in this exciting high-tech thriller.

Austin and several other pilots have been recruited by the CIA for a secret mission. The pilots must master the controls of several stolen North Vietnamese MiG jets; then, disguised as Russians, they are to go behind enemy lines and destroy North Vietnamese military targets. If they succeed, there would be fewer U.S. casualties and the war possibly shortened. If they fail, the U.S. government would deny any involvement.

The Mission Impossible that the author has created vividly shows how military personnel cope with their stressful lives. Mr. Weber also demonstrates how civilians deal with a military person on a top-secret assignment.

The plot of the novel moves along at a brisk pace, with many twists and turns, until the final showdown between the Vietnamese and the "Soviets." And Mr. Weber, a former Marine pilot, not only conveys the feeling of flying a MiG in a combat situation -- he also makes one want to be at the controls.

GARY ROEN

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