Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fish On A Walk

Eva Muggenthaler 

This type of book is one of my favorite sorts. It is short on words, but long on possibilities. There are details hidden in so many places, just waiting for little eyes to seek them out. These sorts of books often lead to the very best discussions with your children, when you are treated to (sometimes surprising) thoughts from developing brains.   

Each page is allotted just two words, a pair of opposites, printed on the thin, white band that runs along the very bottom of the pages. Readers can use these as cues to understand the direction of the illustrations. I like that they are not the typical opposites you find in children's books. Here we have rude/friendly, jealous/accepting, and lazy/hardworking. I think my favorite page is wild/polite where a group of refined pigs seated in a restaurant is absolutely horrified by an adjoining table of wild monkeys. Inexplicable, a banana serves as their waiter. Maybe that's why the monkeys are so excited.

At times, it take a moment to realize how odd some of the details are. It is immediately obvious on the scared/brave page that one half of that duo is the rabbit cowering behind the his instrument, while his parents stand slightly offstage. I searched about before I realized his counterpart was the tiny frog sitting up top, singing away. Only after that did it dawn on me that the entire audience was vegetables. On another page, a white owl wearing glasses and a feathered headband perches on a trash can, reading the paper. A foot from his trash can lies three crushed cigarettes and a spilled bottle of water. I would swear there is a tiny shark's fin rising up from the puddle.

I do believe this is the type of book you could show to ten different children, and get ten different observations and explanations on the actions of each page. I also think a reader could spend a very long time looking at these pages and still miss plenty of interesting bits. Oh, I just spotted a potted plant with facial expressions and a knitted scarf. Interesting indeed .... 

Review copy provided by Enchanted Lion.

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