The 10 birds of the original counting book (Ten Birds, 2011) reappear, this time trying to scare a monster.
Talented paper artist and illustrator Young creates a surreal world in which 10 birds see a frightening shadow and vie with one another to construct fanciful sculptures out of a closet full of clothing, shoes and accessories, using only their ability to pull, pile and tie. The birds flutter and fuss amid the clothing to create outlandish creatures with Potter-esque names: a “Frightening Vipper-Snapper” and a “Bristling Fang-Mangler,” to name just two. The monster they are all reacting to sits in its corner and never responds to their efforts, however; in fact, its threatening shadow never changes shape. The puzzle is solved when the 10th bird, “always easily distracted,” goes wandering and accidentally discovers the mundane origin of the terrifying shadow. The strong, etched black-and-white style of illustration recalls Dürer or Daumier, bringing every detail into sharp relief. Kids will have fun spotting and counting the tiny birds peeking out from the wildly patterned multiplicity of garments that form the “monsters” they have created. This book is a testament to childlike creativity, as well as a playful debunking of monsters in general, as the last page reveals.
Young’s skill and control in her use of black-and-white line and her humorous inventiveness will appeal to young and old alike. (Picture book. 4-8)