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Is it a science book or a picture book? That’s the question that comes to mind when reading the newest offering from teacher-turned-writer Etta Kaner. At first glance, the book presents itself as a picture book for preschoolers. Jeff Szuc’s bright acrylic images splash over every spread, and large-type words snake across the page. “Have you ever seen a duck in a raincoat? That’s silly. Ducks don’t wear raincoats. People do.” Turn the page, however, and the tone changes. The big type gives way to smaller text that explains exactly what a duck does do to keep dry: “Ducks have oil on their outer feathers. They pick up the oil with their beaks from a gland on their backs.” The “Have you ever seen…” formula is repeated seven times – starting with the duck, and moving on to “a jackrabbit in shorts,” “a cheetah in soccer cleats,” “a whale in a snowsuit,” and so on. The silliness of the scenarios and the way they are presented will delight younger readers. The explanations that follow, however, may leave them a little lost or distracted. The smaller text, coupled with more difficult vocabulary, mean these sections read more like a junior non-fiction text than a children’s picture book – an impression that is confirmed by the presence of a table of contents at the front and an educational tic-tac-toe activity at the back. And while the grade school set may enjoy the explanations, some may be put off by the preschool presentation. In the end, the book is as cute and fun as that duck in its bright yellow raincoat. But like the duck, it is also a little conflicted as to what exactly it is trying to be.
A great addition to storytime line-ups (for small groups – it’s relatively wee) and nonfiction shelves.
Cheery acrylic illustrations play the preposterous game to the hilt.
... the book is as cute and fun as that duck in its bright yellow raincoat