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Blake’s take on the stages of childhood is entertainingly offbeat but right on target. George and Bella spend many happy days making model airplanes, dusting, and eating ice cream, but it’s no surprise that their baby, Zagazoo, is delivered in a lumpy postal parcel. George and Bella add another activity to their happy days—“throwing [Zagazoo] from one to the other.” One morning, the pretty little baby has become a large baby vulture with terrifying screeches, highly vocal at night. At their wit’s end, they get a reprieve when the vulture turns into a small, unwittingly destructive elephant, but the transformations are not over. Zagazoo is next a mud-loving warthog, a fire-breathing dragon, and so on, until one day he is a young man with perfect manners and a liking for the young Mirabelle. They are united, but George and Bella have transformed into a pair of feather-dropping, eyeglass-wearing, saggy-chinned brown pelicans. The great arc of life, according to Blake, is happiness to horrors to happiness, with a great dose of the unknown to keep everyone guessing. This book is hilarious, and parents and children will be nodding in recognition as Zagazoo grows up and as his parents grow—happier. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-531-30178-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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Baker (Big Fat Hen, 1994, etc.) engages in more number play, posing ducklings in every combination of groups, e.g., “Splashing as they leap and dive/7 ducklings, 2 plus 5.” Using a great array of streaked and dappled papers, Baker creates a series of leafy collage scenes for the noisy, exuberant ducklings to fill, tucking in an occasional ladybug or other small creature for sharp-eyed pre-readers to spot. Children will regretfully wave goodbye as the ducks fly off in neat formation at the end of this brief, painless introduction to several basic math concepts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-292858-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

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Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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