Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Up! Tall! and High! (but not necessarily in that order.) by Ethan Long

I've looked at a couple other Ethan Long books before and they never quite worked for me. The Croaky Pokey is a very popular storytime read, but his other easy reader/picture book Bird and Birdie I really didn't like.

So I was surprised when I fell in love with this odd and simple easy reader.

A group of brightly colored birds of various sizes introduce three concepts. In the first chapter, I Am Tall, three birds of different sizes compare their height. In the second chapter, I Can Go High, three birds test their flight abilities and help out a friend. In the third chapter, I Am Up, a bird tries to join his friend with disastrous consequences.

Each story is told very simply through basic dialogue. The art and surprise flaps at the end of each story carry the plot. The dialogue of the first story, for example, is basically the different birds saying "I am tall." Kids will have to extrapolate from the pictures and expressions of the birds that there's more to the story than what the birds are saying.

Of course, it's inevitable that Long will be compared to Willems. While the birds in this story don't have the instant attraction and heart of Elephant and Piggie, they do have the same comic timing and "less is more" artistic sensibility. The flaps should be long-lasting as the paper is very thick and sturdy, with an nice glossy finish.

Verdict: This is a good choice for insatiable Mo Willems fans who just can't get enough and for parents looking for easy readers with only a few words on each page, in large type. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780399256110; Published February 2012 by Putnam Juvenile; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

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