CHIBI

A wild mother duck lands in a pond outside a Tokyo office building; seemingly oblivious to the crowds of human observers, she raises her brood, then leads them across an eight-lane highway to a roomier body of water—the great moat in the Emperor's Imperial Gardens. The birds become national media celebrities; reporters camp out as police officers hover, ready to stop traffic when Mother decides to make the move. Later, three ducklings are washed away in a storm, but after an anxious search, two are recovered- -including the smallest, Chibi. Many children will have caught glimpses of this modern Make Way for Ducklingslike family on the news or in a documentary that appears frequently in the US. Brenner (The Earth Is Painted Green, 1994, etc.) and Takaya relay the facts with obvious affection for their subject and make the text just long enough to be divided into two chapters; it includes a smidgen of Japanese. Otani's neatly drawn, evenly lit watercolors capture the tale's simple charm in clean, roomy scenes of smiling people in casual Western dress photographing—but never trying to feed or handle—the dappled, lively ducklings. (notes, glossary) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 1996

ISBN: 0-395-69623-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1995

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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