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A BIRD AND HIS WORM by James Kaczman


by James Kaczman & illustrated by James Kaczman

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 2002
ISBN: 0-618-09460-1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

A bird learns a lesson in friendship and conquers his fears—sort of—in Kaczman’s quirky work. “There once was a bird who did not fly,” reads the opening. “He preferred to walk. All the other birds thought his behavior was odd, so he spent most of his time by himself.” Expanding on the style introduced in When a Line Bends, a Shape Begins (1997), Kaczman’s colorful ink-and-watercolor illustrations, full of sharp angles and curving lines, picture the bird’s pointed beak next to the worm’s curving body. A full-bleed spread with an undulating left-side border ripples onto the facing page to meet the text. “ ‘Please don’t eat me!’ ” cries the worm. Being a bird of a different feather, so to speak, he eats only seeds and berries, believing worms to be “completely unappetizing”; hence, the two become fast friends. Kaczman varies the pacing as the pair goes for a stroll; a set of postcard panels—one bathed in shades of blue and green, the other in orange and yellow—show the two together from morning till night. When the two travel south aboard the back of a fox, first, and then a snake, both attempt to eat their passengers. Thankfully, the fox cottons to the mismatched companions and can’t stomach the idea of making a meal out of them; the snake, uncharmed, can’t slither fast enough to catch them. The clever ending shows the benefits of perseverance and sticking to your guns, made easier by a supportive pal. Kaczman’s sly, good humor, exuberant, original illustrations, and positive message make this a must read. (Picture book. 4-8)