“The Gingerbread Boy” meets “The Mitten” in this tale of a self-centered (and doomed) protagonist squawking about an increasingly crowded setting.
The digital mixed-media sky is blue, and the clouds are puffy as a yellow bird descends to a deserted dry patch of ground in the pond. The peace is short-lived; a shadow blocks the sun, and a heron descends, followed by a frog and a turtle—each uttering the titular phrase, much to the vocal and graceless annoyance of the grumpy bird. When a fox begins to speak, readers may assume this is the end—or that he is about to echo the others—but the rude protagonist sends the animals scurrying with this interruption: “WELL, PARDON ME, BUT THIS IS MY PERCH, AND I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!” As night falls, he achieves ultimate rest when the “land mass” rises, and the crocodile he’s been sitting on has the last “pardon”—a burp. This one-trick book is entertaining enough on the first read: The contrast between the warm and cool palettes as the action ascends and descends and the twist in the final scene will hold children’s interest. On rereadings, however, the soft focus, overly determined digital strokes and sarcastic patter offer little to sustain attention.
For clever cautionary tales with a lingering bite, try those by Jon Scieszka, James Marshall or Jon Klassen. (Picture book. 4-7)