Tuesday, March 23, 2010
An Animal Fair
The Jungle Grapevine by Alex Beard, Abrams Books, 2009
Alex Beard draws from his travels in Africa to recount a story that is inspired by the game of "telephone."
When the animals overhear a comment or' conversation, they do not quite get it right when they repeat it. A crisis builds with each mis-telling until the whole animal kingdom is in an uproar. "I heard it through the grapevine" is the theme of this story.
Beard has a naive painting style that flows and is not contained by the frame of the double page spreads. The animals eavesdrop and spread the gossip from the margins of the page.
The dangers of gossip and not listening are gently depicted.
A Paddling of Ducks: animals in groups from A to Z by Marjorie Blain Parker, illustrated by Joseph Kelly, Kids Can Press, 2010.
This ABC book is a riotous celebration of animal collective nouns. Certainly, the best known book of collective nouns is James Lipton's comprehensive An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition. Marjorie Blain Parker has limited herself and selected one noun for each of the twenty-six letters in the alphabet.
In super-lit and vivid color, Joseph Kelly' pseudo realistic style echoes the groups' names with unexpected humor. A band of monkeys plays on wind instruments in band uniforms but the "bloat of hippos" labors away on exercise bikes.
Parker has selected animals that are familiar and others that are exotic. Fish in the "run of salmon" all sport a number as they would in a marathon race. The "labor of moles" wear hard hats and operate earth-moving equipment while being overseen by a "watch of nightingales." The pages offer more details which are fun to discover. An otter shares the "O" page with the"bed of oysters" and an anteater appears on the "A" page with the "army of ants." It is hard to choose just one but, I think my favorite page is the "skulk of foxes" -- no, the "crash of rhinos."
This is a very entertaining and visually stunning book. It clearly conveys the concept and meaning of collective nouns. This is a must-have for a school or public library.