Wednesday, 23 April 2014

BOOK REVIEW -- Canadian Children's Book News

Tales of Fins, Feathers and Fur: Four notable Picture Books

by Senta Ross
Canadian Children's Book News
Spring 2014

What makes stories about animals so popular? Is it because they teach us about survival and life's lessons, or is it because they move us and lead us to contemplate love and devotion? Perhaps we see ourselves reflected in them. Here are four notable picture books about creatures, great and small, which are certain to entertain, educate and cause one to ponder.

What could be more embarrassing for a duckling than to be afraid of water? After confiding her distress to a benevolent frog, Little Chicken Duck is introduced to a variety of forest birds who divulge their own fears to her. So, we meet an owl spooked by the dark, a lark inhibited in her singing, a robin ruffled into discomfort by the rain, a cockoo with a dread of heights, quails intimidated by snails, and an eagle who cowers from lightning. With frankness these creatures also share how they have managed to conquer their peculiar phobias. Buoyed by their encouragement, Little Chicken Duck finally takes the plunger, loves it and becomes the recipient of a surprising confession from her mentor, the frog.

Author Tim Beiser has composed a rollicking poetic text that will be a joy to either read aloud or listen to. The back-and-forth conversation between the frog and the duckling is clever and energetic: "Ah, but nothing can be better," said our frog, "than getting wetter / Splashing 'round a forest pool is cool I think!" / Peeped the duckling, "No, it's scary! And I'm very, very wary. / I'm afraid that if I wade in, I will sink."

Using acrylic paint on gessoed paper, illustrator Bill Slavin brings forth a collection of memorable characters, each with its distinctive attributes and dispositions portrayed from a variety of perspectives. Young readers will be caught up in their playful antics and may identify with the creatures' trepedations, thereby realizing that they are not alone hen facing their ordinary human fears. ...

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