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Blake’s take on the stages of childhood is entertainingly offbeat but right on target. George and Bella spend many happy days making model airplanes, dusting, and eating ice cream, but it’s no surprise that their baby, Zagazoo, is delivered in a lumpy postal parcel. George and Bella add another activity to their happy days—“throwing [Zagazoo] from one to the other.” One morning, the pretty little baby has become a large baby vulture with terrifying screeches, highly vocal at night. At their wit’s end, they get a reprieve when the vulture turns into a small, unwittingly destructive elephant, but the transformations are not over. Zagazoo is next a mud-loving warthog, a fire-breathing dragon, and so on, until one day he is a young man with perfect manners and a liking for the young Mirabelle. They are united, but George and Bella have transformed into a pair of feather-dropping, eyeglass-wearing, saggy-chinned brown pelicans. The great arc of life, according to Blake, is happiness to horrors to happiness, with a great dose of the unknown to keep everyone guessing. This book is hilarious, and parents and children will be nodding in recognition as Zagazoo grows up and as his parents grow—happier. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-531-30178-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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Baker (Big Fat Hen, 1994, etc.) engages in more number play, posing ducklings in every combination of groups, e.g., “Splashing as they leap and dive/7 ducklings, 2 plus 5.” Using a great array of streaked and dappled papers, Baker creates a series of leafy collage scenes for the noisy, exuberant ducklings to fill, tucking in an occasional ladybug or other small creature for sharp-eyed pre-readers to spot. Children will regretfully wave goodbye as the ducks fly off in neat formation at the end of this brief, painless introduction to several basic math concepts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-292858-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

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Big Brown Bear, with a natty bowler hat, is all set to paint the house in this cheerful Level 1 reader. Every page presents a full-color scene and a few words of easily predicted, often rhyming text: “Bear is big. Bear is brown. Bear goes up. He comes down.” Big Bear climbs a ladder with a pail of blue paint, while nearby, Little Bear plays with a ball and bat—“Oh no! Little Bear! Do not do that!” These are simple words, but sometimes challenging ones, e.g., there are two uses of up, as in climbing the ladder and washing up. The pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations provide nearly ideal context, while also amplifying the story. The format is attractive and practical, featuring large type on a white background that is placed for easy reading. Beginning readers will be amused by the gentle humor in the book, and feel accomplished to have tackled it themselves. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-201999-5

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Green Light/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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