Collaboration is the key to success in this picture book.
The story enticingly begins with five double-page spreads, wordless except for onomatopoeia, as a cat leaps at a big-eyed crab sitting on a rock and the crab pinches back. The cat flees and leaps after a small bird next, who flies away with a startled “AAAH!” The illustrations, done in a collagelike style that combines simple shapes, deftly play with visual sequencing and wonderfully expressive characters to cleverly set up the story. After the bird lands near the crab, the text begins, with the crab waxing poetic: “Oh! If only I might escape this life of muddy scuttling and fly.” To which the bird replies, in a surfer-dude tone (the distinct voices of each character are a joy), that it wishes for “big, snapping claws” in order to “pinch that cat on the nose.” The two have an epiphany: combine forces and become “crabbird!” The illustration shows the bird clutching the crab as they fly through the air. The combinations don’t stop, and “crabbird!” becomes “craburtlebird!” and “birdraburtlebear!” as they pick up a turtle and a bear to become even more “UNSTOPPABLE!” Or so they think—until they spy bulldozers clearing their forest home for a shopping mall. Fear not! The power of cooperation reaches its zenith in a satisfying, high-spirited conclusion (that includes illustrated human diversity, most notably in the form of a president who’s a woman of color and a vigorously multiracial Congress).
The power of teamwork becomes the people’s power, all wrapped in a cheerful romp. (Picture book. 3-8)