One by one, 16 animals charge down a grassy slope in a colorful assortment of footwear.
Cat, Tiger, Duck, and others ride by in shoes that match their personal styles: Chicken has feathers on her fancy boot, Dog is in a furry shoe. Bear happily pedals along while honking a horn. Giraffe has some difficulty staying upright “in her unreliable rickety tall-boot car,” while shoeless Crab and Rat make do with a teapot and pail, respectively. Large-scale double-page spreads with rhyming text on the verso and animals on the recto propel the action. Russian illustrator Popov gets top billing, suggesting that Kandle’s rhymes were added after the creation of the illustrations. The text is uneven and lacks spark: “Duck’s music may sound hideous, / but at least his ride is amphibious.” The unusual mixed-media artwork has an ambiguous quality, setting the fun of a parade against a dark, cheerless hillside. Other illustrations are downright creepy: “Wolf’s on the hunt for a pig or three. / He’s getting ready for afternoon tea.” He’s also dressed in a red cape and carries a suspiciously red ax in his gray, tanklike shoe. Fortunately, the pig is not in front of him. The rear endpapers pull back to show (most of) the whole parade and invite readers to “turn to page one, and…start it again!”
A most unusual book featuring counting and animal identification; whether readers will take up the invitation to enjoy it again will depend on their tolerance for the surreal. (Picture book. 3-6)