Aruego and Dewey's exuberant colors and a number of snappy details in the story help make this very free adaptation of an Indian folk tale a lively, entertaining picture book. When Blackbird's wife is stolen by the king's men, the resourceful bird fits himself out with a thorn for a sword, a frogskin shield, half a walnut shell for a helmet, and the other half for a kettledrum--and, thus fetchingly attired, he marches off beating his drum: RUM PUM PUM, RUM PUM PUM. On the way to make war on the king, Blackbird meets a cat, some ants, a stick, and a river, all of whom have their own grievances against the king--and so, one by one, they all pile into Blackbird's ear and go along to help in the fight. ""As you can imagine, Blackbird's ear was really full by now""--but Dewey and Aruego help you picture the accommodation. And when they arrive at the palace, Blackbird's hidden passengers make things so tough for the king's hens, horses, and elephants, and at last for the king himself, that he finally calls out, ""For heaven's sake, General Blackbird, take your wife and get out of here!"" Pictured with dash and told with a jaunty RUM PUM PUM, this might be less authentic than Bang's similar The Old Woman and the Rice Thief (p. 101, J-19), but it's brisker and more enticing.