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BIRDBRAIN AMOS by Michael Delaney


by Michael Delaney

Age Range: 8 - 10

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-23614-7
Publisher: Philomel

As ad hoc parents go, Horton has nothing on Amos, a mild-mannered hippo with a bug problem who advertises for one tick bird and finds himself hosting a whole family. After don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you interviews with a thrush and a vulture, Amos hires Kumba, an industrious but literal-minded tick bird who responds to his invitation to make herself at home by building a nest between his ears, and laying a clutch of eggs. Unlike Mayzie, Kumba and her chronically unemployed husband Akka do stick around for a while, but Amos ultimately finds himself in loco parentis to one querulous hatchling (“ ‘You sound just like your mother!’ ”), and even becoming (more or less) reconciled to having a nest on his head. That nest goes from tiny to invisible in Delaney’s sketchy line drawings, and the job interviews aren’t all that’s archly aimed over children’s heads here. All in all, it’s a promising premise that founders on trite jokes and an unimaginative plot, nor does it feature the vivid characters or naturalistic detail that bring such talking-animal tales as Shalant’s Bartleby of the Mighty Mississippi (2000), and, closer to thematic home, Hansen’s Caesar’s Antlers (1997) to life. (Fiction. 8-10)