OPHELIA by Dieter Schubert


Age Range: 4 - 8
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Entirely winning illustrations and a folktale-like plot are brought low by a lackluster, if unobjectionable, ending. One morning Ophelia the hippo is awakened by Kevin’s voice coming “from afar,” complaining of butterflies in his stomach. Off the pudgy ’potamus goes, medical bag in hand, to see to Kevin’s stomachache, telling Meerkat as she goes. Meerkat recommends a hot-water bottle for his cramps and sets off too, alerting Frog before he leaves. Predictably, this forest game of “Telephone” imagines greater and greater troubles for poor Kevin with each animal in the chain, until, “Kevin is dead,” screeches Toucan. Delicate, full-bleed watercolors depict the characters with a gentle humor: The yellow-spotted, blue-footed Frog, for instance, carries a red teapot; Meerkat sports a red scarf and totes his penguin hot-water bottle under his arm. With each iteration of Kevin’s increasingly severe condition, the animals’ imaginations are projected into the scene, Kevin’s silhouette appearing in ever more dire circumstances. But the ending explanation—“He was just a little nervous about being in love”—is nothing if not a letdown and will likely leave readers feeling cheated. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 25th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59078-659-8
Page count: 28pp
Publisher: Lemniscaat/Boyds Mills
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2009


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