Some intrepid ostriches band together to save a friend kidnapped by aliens in this debut picture book.
As a female ostrich explains, her boyfriend, Stu, and she were hatched at the same time. He always makes her smile, but Stu shows his worth in another way when a spaceship arrives. The aliens (short, blue-green, and equipped with antennae) poke the ostriches with sticks, which isn’t a good beginning. Anna, a bossy ostrich, insists on being the first to look inside the ship—but she doesn’t return. Stu leaps into action, recruiting the ostriches who’ve been training for a race. They trick the aliens into leaving their ship and then frighten them off. In the end, the birds dance to celebrate their win. In her work, Gilbers tells an amped-up tale of hijinks and shenanigans that effectively uses different fonts of various sizes for humor and impact. For example, when the ostriches sneak up on the ship, they get “CLOSER, AND CLOSER, AND CLOSER!” The font size grows from normal to enormous, underlining the teasing suspense and providing cues for reading aloud (whisper, regular voice, shout). An amusing false ending rounds things off. The stylized, somewhat surreal illustrations by Wang (Bernerd and a Small Act of Kindness, 2019, etc.) capture the story’s comic energy but are also softened by a palette dominated by green, blue, yellow, and pink. The birds are varied and appealing; they’re given anthropomorphic faces but otherwise are recognizably ostriches.
A playful and energetic animal tale with great read-aloud potential.