FIRST, SECOND by Daniil Kharms


by & illustrated by & translated by
Age Range: 4 - 8
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 Every journey has its logistical problems, but they come peck by drove in this absurdist's delight, penned in the 1930s by the Russian Kharms. A gent steps out one morning, ``singing a song,'' joins up with his friend Pete, then with a ``man no bigger than a jug,'' and another ``so long we couldn't see his feet.'' They proceed, though not before solving the dilemma of their varying gaits. This fast becomes a comedy of cooperation, as the bonhomous characters fashion goofily elegant solutions to each new challenge- -who rides the donkey, how to arrange themselves in boat and car. From the vicissitudes of this modest odyssey, Kharms--in Pevear's translation--conjures a drily humorous story that shrewdly captures the unique pleasures of working through a problem with other, very different, people. Or treat the book purely as a comic episode, a look at the varied permutations and combinations of a fixed set of possibilities, or an open-ended, shaggy-dog version of the theme most recently sighted in Ed Young's Donkey Trouble (1995). Rosenthal's superb illustrations are an irresistible cross- pollination of the Katzenjammer Kids with the daft tricksters found in Zap comics, situated in flat, graphically sophisticated landscapes. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 25th, 1996
ISBN: 0-374-32339-9
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1996


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