TENREC'S TWIGS by Bert Kitchen


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Kitchen (Animal Alphabet, Animal Numbers) is a master of finely detailed, beautifully composed portraits of animals; the African animals here are delineated in his usual impeccable style. The story itself is slight. The streaked tenrec--described in a concluding note as something between a shrew and a hedgehog, found only on Madagascar, and now endangered by destruction of its habitat--enjoys weaving little houses from twigs until a grumpy warthog declares the activity a waste of time. So the tenrec polls the other animals--gray parrot, giant anteater, giraffe, pangolin, and more--for their opinions, getting responses that typify the animals and/or satirize humans (adjutant stork is so overcome by his own importance that he forgets the question without answering it), but no helpful answers come till owl points out that ternec's building makes him happy, is harmless to others, and may prove inspirational. The story does serve to carry the lovely illustrations, although the concluding notes on the animals are not adequate, stating that "most of them come from central and southern Africa" but never specifying the exceptions; moreover, it is not stated whether the tenrec's building activity is natural history or fantasy. The book would serve better as a plea for preservation if such facts were made clear.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1989
ISBN: 399-21720-7
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Philomel
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