Grade 2 Up-Ask 15 authors and artists from the picture book and/or comics world to start a story with "It was a dark and silly night-" and you get the selections that comprise this third volume in the series of cartoon creations and collaborations. Hallmarks of the first two "Little Lit" books are all here: stylish graphic design and layout, full-color art, large format, and quality heavyweight paper. Several of the same names are here, also-including William Joyce, Kaz, and Martin Handford-but intriguing new pairs appear for the first time. The nicely mysterious circularity of Lemony Snicket's story, which begins "In this case `silly' stands for- Somewhat Intelligent, Largely Laconic Yeti," plays out against Richard Sala's fairly straightforward cartooning, enhancing the deadpan absurdity of the tale. Neil Gaiman's creepy saga of a ghouls-just-wanna-have-fun cemetery party derives much of its goofiness from Gahan Wilson's trademark goggle-eyed, lumpish kids and creatures. Other standouts include Joost Swarte's domestic drama turned slapstick, complete with a detached head sewn back on, which has the look of a slightly surreal "Tintin" adventure, and comics legend Basil Wolverton's "Jumpin' Jupiter" spaceman panels from 1952, still fresh and funny, are full of punny detail and dizzy wordplay. Less successful are J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh's postmodern penguins (including Chongo Chingi from Penguin Dreams [Chronicle, 1999]) on a flat and unfunny journey from the South Pole to Hollywood, and Barbara McClintock's picture puzzle, which is a bit too dark and indistinct to be entirely successful. On the whole, however, the variety of art and text, from the bizarre to the benign, offers a cast of cuckoos for just about every taste.