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MUD CITY by Brenda Z. Guiberson


A Flamingo Story

by Brenda Z. Guiberson & illustrated by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: June 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-8050-7177-6
Publisher: Henry Holt

A young flamingo hatches and grows to maturity in a narrative that packs an enormous amount of information into what is a very simple story. The “mud city” of the title is the flamingos’ salty Bahamian hatching ground, evocatively rendered with precise prose. Guiberson relates the perils—sudden storms, wild pigs—and pleasures—shrimp “soup,” the mating dance—of flamingo life with equal dispatch, never indulging in anthropomorphism. Even as readers follow the protagonist’s story, they will learn about the delicate ecosystem of the salinas (salty lakes formed by evaporation) and the ways human activities can affect flamingos. With her text, Guiberson has done her usual efficient job of giving young readers an insiders’ view of a very alien way of life; for the first time, however, she provides the accompanying illustrations, with somewhat mixed results. While some compositions are inspired (the fledgling flamingo splashes down awkwardly after his first flight), others, if competent, are fairly prosaic, adding little to the words. The strength and specificity of the text justifies the whole; one hopes in subsequent works the illustrations will rise to the occasion. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8)