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Archive for Sunday, September 25, 2005

Books of a feather fly high

September 25, 2005

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From reality to the unreal, these books allow for a lot of fowl play. Beaks and bills vie for the attention of very young readers.

"Tickle the Duck!" by Ethan Long starts with a basic premise: The duck in question is extremely sensitive when it comes to various parts of his anatomy. The touch-and-feel format allow readers to stroke soft and webbed textures as they tickle Duck on his torso and his foot, under his wing, and finally, on his responsive belly.

The book (Little, Brown and Co., $10.99) lets preschoolers see that they're not the only ones who like tickling in some places, but not others. Persistent chuckles and protests from Duck are sure to prompt readers to try getting the same reaction from adults, which will make for a free-for-all.

Concern about the fact that dodos are extinct is momentarily allayed in "I Am Dodo: Not a True Story," by Kae Nishimura (Clarion Books, $15). In this tale, a lone surviving dodo manages to make it to New York City, where he is first pursued by and eventually makes friends with a very old professor and his dog.

The professor forgets about wanting to capture the bird when he sees Dodo dance. Ultimately, Dodo, Spotty and the man frolic in the park, out of sight of a busy everyday world.

The magic's in the details here: Dodo masquerading as a sign while playing hide-and-seek, and passing by the Eiffel Tower before catching a ship that sails by the Statue of Liberty. New Yorkers with spiked hair and red go-go boots. A banana tossed by a diner directly into hungry Dodo's path.

The illustrations are beguiling and endearing. Despite the urbane Manhattanites all around him, it is the round, romping Dodo who single-handedly takes over each page. He is bound to make kids want one just like him.

"Where Do Chicks Come From?" by Amy E. Sklansky with illustrations by Pam Paparone, is at the opposite end of the spectrum, telling the true story of how eggs produce chickens.

With attention to multiple facts, the book (HarperCollins, $15.99) provides an engrossing explanation of how a hen warms and turns her eggs, and how chicks develop inside them.

Giving a day-by-day synopsis, Sklansky chronicles the growth of heart, head, eyes, tail, etc. Paparone offers substantial skills in visually documenting each new stage inside the egg.

Here are three cases where bird-watching doesn't have to entail fancy equipment or even a backyard. A lot can be seen simply by flipping a page.

- Lois Henderlong is a freelance writer. She lives in La Porte, Ind., and can be reached at loisirene@csinet.net.

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